By: Lara Yeku

Last week, the C.E.O called for the HRM. 

The HRM arrives.

The C.E.O tells the HRM, we need to lay-off 120 staff asap because the current business financials cannot sustain our present overhead cost.

The HRM wears her design thinking cap and replied, sir, our objective is clear to me, which is to optimize cost for our business survival (design thinking starts by defining the problem to solve), but laying off people might not be the only approach so we do not lose our key talents (design thinking is showing empathy). “Sir, can I go and review our jobs to match our current business model using job/work simplification & job design approach to enable us to maximize output while minimizing expenditure and cost”(Design thinking is generating options), HRM asked? Okay, the C.E.O responded.

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Design thinking is simply using the designers' toolkits to solve problems innovatively. HR can get innovative by generating various options to solve organizational problems. In this case, HR can suggest job design and work simplification process as options. In the design thinking process, you try to understand the job and circumstances (through empathy), define the problem, analyze the process, prototype solutions, and test results.

Using the Work or job simplification approach is the process of removing tasks from existing roles in order to make them more focused to align with the company's business model. The objective of work simplification is to develop improved work methods that maximize output while minimizing expenditure and cost. Job simplification also referred to as work simplification, is a job design intervention.   Job redesign is an increasingly relevant tool to shape the changing roles in the future of work. When done right, it can create a workforce that moves the company forward. Job redesign is the process of rearranging tasks and responsibilities to better align roles with the changing environment inside and outside the organization.

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Let’s look at an example of how HR used job simplification & redesign innovatively.

Bola works at the reception of a fast-growing company for about 2 years. Her role is to handle administration, take care of office chores, and receive guests. Bola loves her work. However, when the company had to work remotely due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Bola's role was no longer in demand as her front-desk & administrative skills would not be useful in virtual working. Fortunately, Bola has other skills that are useful such as her organizational, creative, customer centricity, data entry skills.

Bola is hardworking and dedicated. She is a good talent. The company then decided to redesign her job/role by simplifying her role to become the "Customer Experience" officer instead of a "Receptionist/Front-desk officer". Bola's role was redesigned to build & engage online clients, create content and design graphics, monitor the online customer engagement index, and work as PMO. Her role was simplified & redesigned to become a revenue-generating role by redesigning the role to optimize it. Instead of laying off her role, it was redesigned.

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HR was able to increase the income generation portfolio of the business, by re-adapting some roles through job designs & simplification, leveraging on technology, and reduced the lay-off number significantly. HR used design thinking to generate value for the organization that offers the best-fit solutions, leveraging on technology.

About the Author 

Lara is a seasoned Human Resources senior executive with local and global best practices spanning across various industries. She is a certified coach with expertise cutting across HR Transformation, Talent & Career Management, HR Strategy, HR Metrics & Data Analytics, Organizational Development, Training, Performance Management, Talent Acquisition & Retention, Workforce planning, HR Coaching, Succession Planning, etc. 

You can reach her on LinkedIn here.

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