Engaging New Hires using Design thinking
New Hire Engagement is tough, especially given the Time to Productivity. Human Resource professionals have been facing a lot of trouble solving this problem and one of our clients was amazed that how a simple Design Thinking intervention got them results like Reduction of Error Rates, Improvement in Time to Productivity, Reduction in Customer Complaints and improvement in the efficiency of every department. Simplyfing the complexity was the aim and we managed to do this seamlessly
DISCLAIMER: The Contents in this document must not be reproduced, in whole or in part, or used or discussed without the prior written permission of Bruhad Buch. Client name & Employee names have been changed based on request from our esteemed client.
“New Message Received”, was the pop up that got displayed on Ajay’s mobile. He opened the
message which read, “Mr. Singh is looking for you. Just leave whatever you’re doing and come
to his cabin, NOW”. Multiple thoughts ran through Ajay’s mind as the CEO had summoned him.
He walked slower than usual, as he was trying to think of all the escalations and fights over
emails that could’ve gone against him. He knocked at Mr. Singh’s door and entered the cabin.
“Ajay”, a stern looking Mr. Singh said, “You were hired a year back to set up the Learning
Department, but all I’ve got is complaints and escalations. Is that right?” and he looked towards
Dilveer, the HR Head. Dilveer nodded in agreement. “Sir, I was just trying to change the way
things happen, starting with Induction and probably that has triggered these escalations”
replied Ajay. “If you can tell me the escalations that have come, I can explain”
“No more explanations needed Ajay” Dilveer stood up slamming the table in front of him. “Wait
here, we’ve got the people who have escalated matters, face them” he said as he left the cabin.
Ajay was perspiring and looking at an unsympathetic faced Mr. Singh. The door behind Ajay
opened and in came 4 gentlemen and 2 ladies holding bouquets. Mr. Singh stood up and
everyone clapped for Ajay. “I don’t understand this sir, I mean wha…” Ajay started but was
interrupted by Dilveer who said “You have achieved something in 1 year that we have been
trying to do for many years congratulations”, and handed over the bouquets to him. Ajay was
speechless, stunned and at the same time excited internally that his design had worked
The Need for this Innovation
“Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody”
It was Ajay’s first day at his new office, Rumour Heights – a prime location in Mumbai, at the
10th floor of a tall glass building, where he was assigned the task to set up the learning
department. He was escorted to a meeting room, where he was to undergo his induction.
Whether you’re a fresher or an experienced professional, the first day is always exciting as you
get to know many things about an organization.
To his dismay, the current HR executive ran him through a presentation about the company
and asked if there were any questions. All questions that Ajay asked were answered in a very
casual manner and at the end of each answer; the HR executive said “Slowly you’ll understand
everything. I’ll arrange for your meetings with the business heads and you can ask them as
many questions as you want”. The induction was over in 2 hours and all Ajay did that was read
articles about the organization, sitting in the meeting room, since his workplace wasn’t ready.
Setting up a department is never an easy task but Ajay was happy that he now knew where to
start. During his meetings with the functional heads, he subtly asked questions on Employee
Engagement (Which, to many people is playing games on a Friday evening, but has a lot deeper
meaning) and he realized that the biggest pain area was productivity of the employee. It took
almost a week post induction for them to start getting productive. Also, assimilation in the
organization culture took them more than 6 months, which was proving to be an obstacle for
innovative product launches & process improvements
Converting Challenges to Opportunities
“In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity”
The project started by gathering data points like position descriptions, nature of work,
technicalities involved in the job, etc. and Ajay started conducting the induction himself.
However, that didn’t seem to work as the problem was deeper than he thought. He thought to
himself, “What if I could finish all the paper work before I come and focus only on the
induction? What if I could get my workspace ready as soon as I finish the Induction? What if I
could get a plan that expects me to work with all departments? What if I could suggest changes
to the way other functions work from a 3rd person perspective?” He prepared a presentation
based on these thoughts and portrayed the Induction process as an Engagement program to
Dilveer, his reporting boss and the HR Head.
“I don’t think the business will accept this Ajay” said Dilveer, “They want the individual to be
productive right from day 1 and as it is we get manpower requirements that are urgent so I
don’t want to be blamed for business getting stalled because of an Induction”. Ajay replied “Sir,
currently our data says, that the new joinee takes 180 days to be productive, I’m asking for 90
days, and moreover, if the newcomer gets exposed to other areas of work, s/he will get good
knowledge of where the gaps are and processes can run better than they were”. “This project is
yours and the risk is yours. I am not approving this in principle, however if you show me
results in the next 1 year, I promise you I will formalize this process”. “Sir, but without a formal
approval how can I proceed? Who will listen to me?” Ajay retorted. “That’s your problem Ajay,
you may go now” said Dilveer and shifted his focus back to his laptop
Ajay wanted to experiment and thus he sent out a mail to all the functional heads seeking their
support. The functional heads were skeptical and responded in negative; however Ajay pushed
his way through by assuring them that if productivity gets affected; he will stop the process in
a year. He initiated the process by sending the paperwork and a few company details to the
new joinees 15 days before they join and ensured that they feel welcomed even before they
join the company. He had trained the HR folks on how to proceed with the Induction and thus
managed to continue this process at all locations.
The new joinees were supposed to work for 7 days in a function other than their own
department and observe the process. They were given a template, to note down their
observations, which they had to share at the end of 7 days with Ajay. On the 75th day Ajay
would summon all new joinees and discuss their experiences. The new joinees were then sent
to their respective departments to share the experiences with the heads. The heads then could
take a decision on the process improvements and ensure that gaps are addressed.
The Final Product
“Success is where preparation and opportunity meet”
This process went on for 9 months and around 45 people were inducted during this period. It
was noticed that most of the people were productive right from Day 45 since they could
identify the gaps and connect the dots right immediately, since most of them were from the
same industry and knew someone or the other. The process became so robust that the
production line improved by 25% and the processes were redesigned to ensure optimum
utilization of resources.
“There’s nothing like the feeling of making a lasting impact on someone’s life”
Ajay’s Engagement Program led to the following outcomes:
1) The production processes underwent a change and the error rate reduced by 23% YOY
2) The quality of products improved and as a result customer complaints reduced by 65%
3) Process improvements started right from the time the spare parts enter the shop floor
and that resulted in improving efficiency of each department by 13% YOY