HR > UX > WX?
From HR to UX…
My 27th birthday gift to myself was a career change. I took a leap of faith and pivoted from a stable career in human resources into the increasingly popular field of UX Design. It was the seemingly perfect fit — a career that would bring out my creativity but utilize my business skills, too. Since User Experience Design is all about advocating for the users’ needs, while keeping the goals of the business in mind, I immediately saw a lot of similarities to what I was doing in HR (more on that coming soon). But there will A LOT to learn — the past three years have been full of growth, excitement, and yeah, a little bit of fear. Imposter syndrome is real, ya’ll.
My experience in the workplace(s)
So here I am — almost 30 and I’ve had 5 jobs (NOT including my freelance gigs) — so that’s about 7 offices, 9 bosses, 4 promotions and 3 industries. It’s safe to say that I have had a variety of office experiences. First, let’s address what you might be thinking: job hopper. Yeah, maybe that’s true. But it’s 2020, is that such a bad thing? There’s been a negative stigma on job hopping, but in my case I think it’s only positively affected my career. Kissing a few corporate frogs has given me experience. This experience has taught me what I want in a manager, what work environment I thrive in, what makes me happy and motivated. As I enter the next decade of my life, I feel more confident than ever that I know who I am professionally and what I want for my career.
The interview question “what are you looking for?” was once difficult to answer. When I was a recent grad looking for my first job, this question was hard to answer. I didn’t know. I wanted a job that paid so I could move out of my parents house, but I knew that wasn’t the right answer. When reading job description requirements, there’s usually a long bulleted list of what the company needs in an employee. Now my list is just as long.
Where I’m going with this is that the employee and employer relationship has to be a mutually beneficial one. Businesses cannot be successful if the relationship with their employees is not also successful. So, when I got my first taste of a toxic workplace — one that ultimately ended with me leaving that employer — I had a lot of thoughts going through my mind. On a day to day, I was creating experiences digitally, thinking about how to design a positive experience for users while also considering the needs of the business. I kept wondering, why don’t we apply this same methodology to the workplace? Why can’t we conduct research with employees to understand their needs and take those insights to strategically plan improved processes, tools, and resources to create a more positive employee/workplace experience?
I started to explore this. Taking a similar approach as I did when I was first considering a career change, I reached out to leaders in the industry. Certainly I couldn’t be the only one who had thought about this, right?
Luckily, I wasn’t.
So is “Workplace Experience Design” a thing?
During my research, I came across an article on Medium. Excited to see that my idea wasn’t living in isolation… once excerpt says “But, what about our experience in the workplace? Can’t we design this also? Couldn’t a user experience designer find gainful employment in creating the employee user experience?”
…UX back to HR?
What I have found over the past couple months about the emerging idea of workplace design has me SO excited for my future in design. Finally, it’s all coming full circle and my future career path that was once unclear is now being brought into focus. Looking forward to one day helping shape critical HR experiences by considering all the touch points that play an important role in an organization’s ecosystem.
So no, not back to HR. I don’t see myself conducting phone screens or administering benefits. I don’t see myself running payroll or filing workers comp claims. But I do see myself designing how these types of interactions happen within an organization. I see myself being somewhat of an extension of the HR function, but devoting myself fully to the employee experience.
So what’s next?
Right now, I’m honing my experience design skills at my current employer. While it’s not exactly a “workplace experience” role, I know that the things I am learning here and other traditional UX roles are only going to set me up for success whenever I do make the move into WX. Until then, I will keep advocating for employee experiences and sharing my passion for human centered design in both the digital world and the real world.
If you also have a passion for WX and designing for employees, would love to chat more!