Case Study

Leveraging AI for Employee Engagement

Using design thinking to re-imagine the employee experience.

A technology leader with 20 years of experience championing innovative software solutions asked Myplanet to tackle a series of intimate user research engagements focused on understanding how smart technologies—such as virtual agents and automation—could fit into their employees’ view of the ideal experience at work.

Expertise required for this project

  • Stakeholder & User Interviews
  • Interface Definition
  • Experience Mapping
  • UI Exploration
  • Persona Development
The Challenge

With over 30,000 employees worldwide and a reputation as a leader in relationship management systems, the HR team of this Fortune 500 company faces a number of challenges in ensuring their employees are able to access the information they need when they need it. The diverse requirements of their staff—with employees located around the globe and at various stages of their careers—is difficult to track and to understand.

Recognizing the opportunities that recent advances in automation and AI could provide to their internal HR programs, they invited Myplanet to partner in bringing design thinking to their complex challenges. The aim was to uncover areas where their employees and processes would benefit from “smarter” tools which would set a strong foundation for any future changes to their HR systems.

With an emphasis on extensive user-research and the aim of having clear personas identified to work from for future upgrades, Myplanet joined with their team for two separate but connected initiatives.

Design thinking and user research can help us really figure out and articulate what the right engagement experiences are for our employee population, and do it in a way that is guided, actionable, and predictive.

Director, HR Strategy

Myplanet's team conducts a stakeholder interview.

The Strategy

Overhauling an HR system at an organization with tens of thousands of internationally distributed employees, the risks are amplified. Time, money, and the high cost of disrupting people are all important factors to consider in this kind of undertaking, which is why setting a strong foundation for any new initiative is critical. Design thinking, especially in-depth user research, can be the safest and most productive means to an end in high-stakes contexts like this.

Design thinking and user research can help us align data and what employees think to our own instincts, assumptions, and feelings of where we want the experience to go. It helps us marry the two, instead of just relying on one or the other.

Director, HR Strategy

By conducting user research and understanding the pain points, needs, wants, and risks of any changes before they’re made, the chances of significant waste are minimized. And for the HR team, that isn’t just measured in dollar value— it’s measured in the success of the people that use the systems.

For the first phase of the engagement, Myplanet conducted two design studios looking at just one area of their HR program: Feedback. Creating an experience map and employing personas to uncover areas of opportunity, we then took that information and used it to explore possible solutions to support their employee feedback program.

In phase two, we broadened the scope of potential use cases by shifting the focus of the research to “self-service” user experiences. By using in-depth user research and persona creation, Myplanet helped the HR team to better understand the impact self-service experiences (automated / not directly guided by a person) would have compared to more full-service experiences (direct human guidance), and how automation would best fit into that picture.

Figuring out not only what could be done, but what should be done was a primary objective in bringing in Myplanet to guide their research.

The Solution

To uncover the best methods for tackling the challenges they were facing, Myplanet conducted extensive user research in phase 1, establishing a clear foundation off of which to build strategic plans. We interviewed employees from a broad cross-section of experiences within the organization—including the HR team members who would be most connected to the solutions—from across North America and Europe.

The great thing for us about working with Myplanet is that they come in and work to truly understand our culture, where we are from a technology maturity perspective and from a cultural perspective.

Director, HR Strategy

The first design studio we conducted focused on empathy building and discovery of opportunities, where the second design studio focused on validating the would-be experience. Using the extensive research and findings from both of these studios, we established a plan that would take these learnings into next steps in terms of more meaningful integration of the feedback experience and how automation could be incorporated into it— both what would work from an HR perspective, and what the employees would accept and embrace.

Because it’s not about driving any one specific technology solution. It’s about finding the possibilities and figuring out what will work in these specific circumstances— even if it’s not the solution we thought it would be.

Careful synthesis of research data revealed distinct criteria on which we mapped users' mindsets. This provided the foundation from which we built personas that exemplified the different perspectives, goals, and needs that users had about the holistic HR experience.

For phase 2, the primary objective was to create personas that they could use as they continue to assess the viability of self-service vs full-service elements of their HR systems. This meant digging into the various types of employees they have and the ways each of them is likely to react to certain types of assistance.

Understanding the potential use cases for AI-powered automation was a major research aim, but understanding employees’ general comfort levels between self-directed and more personally-guided experiences was the first step in surfacing those opportunities. Which situations will people feel most comfortable figuring out on their own? And when would they rather have an experienced and knowledgeable professional walk them through a process directly? Furthermore, does this change based on role within the organization?

And because no solution would exist in a vacuum, it was important to recognize where each opportunity existed within the broader employee life cycle. They need a solution where people have one place to go to understand their talent development life cycle, a single platform that can provide insights and offer solutions regardless of what stage or struggle is being addressed.

In total, Myplanet conducted interviews with over 60 staff members from a number of regions around the world to help gain a broad base of knowledge off of which to build the personas.

Personas

Outcome & Next Steps

The extensive research and persona-creation process throughout the two engagements provided a launchpad for reengineering their HR programs. Identifying user types and the use cases where automation could be applied with success has allowed them to begin the next phase of applying the insights to the creation of a refined, more usable and user-friendly employee experience for their own teams.

As the war for talent increases, the way that companies differentiate themselves is through the cultural experience. And providing an easy-to-navigate HR experience for all employees, regardless of role or responsibility level, is an important facet of that cultural experience.

Working closely with stakeholders and the HR team to refine their internal HR programs, we used our finely-honed design thinking process to uncover opportunities for streamlining their systems using automation and AI.

Rich and relevant experiences keep employees engaged. And we need to start thinking that way about a holistic HR lifecycle. That’s what employees ultimately want and this was the first few steps down the path to providing that for them.

Director, HR Strategy