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How design thinking can improve wellbeing in the workplace

Happy employees make for more productive ones, with a content staff being key to running a successful business. The tricky part, however, is finding effective ways to improve employee satisfaction. This is where design thinking can help.

Design thinking uses a human-centric approach to solve complex business issues. It’s an innovative method for tackling problems in a way that ensures employees are at the heart of every solution. Many businesses are now implementing it as a way of creating a healthier and happier environment. 

Design thinking uses a five-stage, non-linear cycle to reframe difficult problems in a simple, people-focused context: empathise, define the problem, ideate, prototype and test. 

Implementing design thinking

A happy employee tends to be sick less and have lower levels of stress. They are also more likely to stay, reducing the rate of staff turnover.

So how do you introduce design thinking? It can be as simple as asking for input when designing a wellness programme. Nearly 90% of employees rank health and wellness as very important to them. 

Sending out an email survey looking for suggestions and general feedback, for example, will show employees that you value their ideas on how best to improve the workplace and serve to create a more unified culture. 

Another key aspect of design thinking is the sharing of ideas. Introducing a collaborative space within the office where people can have casual meetings and exchange thoughts on projects is one great way of bringing this to life. Collaboration between different people with different skillsets should increase creativity, help share project burdens and also reassure people that they are valued and being listened to.

The ‘prototyping’ stage is central to this. The idea is that you take suggestions, create solutions around them, and then test them to get a feel for what does and doesn’t work. This approach shows your employees that you will react to their concerns and are constantly striving to meet their needs. 

Are there real health benefits?

Absolutely. Design thinking is geared towards creating a positive culture, which has been shown to lower accident and injury rates. Employees working in an organisation where there is a high level of trust also report less stress and a higher satisfaction with life in general.

Whether it’s putting in place a tailored wellness programme or simply making projects more collaborative, design thinking is not just an effective method of working but one that shows you care about employee wellbeing.

Interested in reading more on mental health and wellbeing? Click here for more articles from Vhi.