Sutherland Innovation Labs Service design to improve customer and employee experiences. Sun, 14 Apr 2024 23:14:05 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 Copyright 2024, Sutherland Innovation Labs - Sutherland Innovation Labs Service design to improve customer and employee experiences. Indie Game Quest Begins! An Evening of Prototyping and Playtesting Thu, 11 Apr 2024 16:52:10 +0100 Indie Game Quest Begins! An Evening of Prototyping and Playtesting

Last night, our London studios buzzed with energy for our inaugural Indie Game Quest, co-hosted with our friends at Game Dev London (GDL). We threw open our doors to the vibrant gaming community, for an evening of prototyping and play.

Game prototyping

The Importance of Playtesting and How to Do It’ was all about rapid prototyping and playtesting. Attendees, ranging from seasoned designers to enthusiastic newcomers, embarked on a journey of transforming bold ideas into playable paper prototypes. There was a whirlwind of sketching, sharing, playing, refining, and laughing.

A huge shout out to everyone who brought their energy and ideas, making the evening a memorable one. Your passion not only fueled the fun but also illuminated the vital role of rapid prototyping and playtesting in crafting engaging games. We can’t wait to do it again!

Game playtesting

Missed out? Don’t worry! This is just the beginning of our Indie Game Quest. There will be more events packed with opportunities for learning, creating, and connecting. So, keep an eye on our social media pages, and join GDL’s Discord to stay in the loop. The adventure continues, and you’re invited.

The Importance of Training Your Empathy Muscles Mon, 25 Mar 2024 13:00:12 +0000 The Importance of Training Your Empathy Muscles

Walk a mile in my shoes. And no we don’t allude to the Joe South 1970s hit.

What if we said that you could easily make better products and services, simply by being more empathic? Let us explain.

What is Empathy?

Empathy is the ability to deeply understand people’s circumstances and experiences. It allows us to understand feelings and connect with the people we are observing at a fundamental level. Although the definition can feel vague, it is more than simply knowing about them. Essentially to … walk a mile in their shoes.

Empathy is not connecting to an experience, its connecting to the emotions that underpin an experience.

Brené Brown

Why Cultivate Empathy?

Cultivating this ability as a designer, product manager, researcher and stakeholder, empowers us to create solutions that resonate with people’s emotional needs and fulfill their desires, whether they are known or unknown. Empathic mindsets inform decisions on actions to take in practice to deliver inclusive and great design.

The understanding of the user experience can be limited by designers’ empathic horizons. This is one’s ability to empathize beyond certain characteristics of their group such as nationality, background, age, gender, culture, experience, capabilities and education. When we come across users that are outside our reference group, there’s a risk that the solutions we provide won’t be adapted to their needs, emotions and desires. This affects and restricts products and services to only cater to a portion of the population.

A designer, no less than an engineer or marketing executive, who simply generalizes from their own standards and expectations will limit the field of opportunity.

Tim Brown, Change by Design, 2009

Limited Understanding Creates Limited Solutions

For example, when a woman is involved in a car crash she is 47% more likely to be seriously injured and 17% more likely to die than a man. What if I told you that it’s all to do with how cars are designed – for whom and by whom.Crash-test dummies were first introduced in the 1950s in the automotive industry, and for decades were based around the 50th-percentile male. Picture an average male, 1.77m tall, weighing 76kg and destitute of impairments, which is significantly taller and heavier than an average woman. Only 60 years after their introduction the United States started using female crash-test dummies.

The Benefits of Empathy

Understanding the true range of users and broadening your empathic horizon is paramount for a great user experience. Empathy informs design decisions and leads to fewer exclusion barriers. By establishing such an innovation culture, you will encourage:

  • A greater understanding of the range of users and their emotions, needs, and experiences
  • A greater ownership of/and interest in the outcomes among stakeholders
  • Reduced costs of iteration cycles, by designing from solid foundations
  • Increased ability to identify and mitigate potential issues early
  • An upholding of the rights of people living with disability and impairments, encouraging independent lifestyles for longer
  • Greater inclusivity
Table with empathy workshop materials
Woman wearing gloves as part of empathy workshop

How to Build Empathy into your Practice?

Empathy is a capability that can be developed and honed over time. Through training, practice, and self-awareness, individuals can enhance their empathetic skills.

In Sutherland Labs we run Empathy Workshops focused on building an initial awareness of a need, understanding of methods that facilitate empathy-building and provide experiential learning activities, like empathy modelling – see our photos.

Interested in broadening your empathic horizon?

We offer Empathy Workshops for client and agency teams designed to build empathy for users.

The Power of Research Films: Enhancing CX through Visual Ethnography Wed, 20 Mar 2024 10:10:20 +0000 The Power of Research Films: Enhancing CX through Visual Ethnography

Understanding the needs, behaviors, and preferences of customers is a crucial step in designing exceptional user experiences. At Sutherland Labs, we employ immersive tools to deeply understand users’ lives. These tools enrich our analysis and design recommendations with nuanced insights about the user’s world, values, and priorities. This blog posts discusses the advantages of visual ethnography and research films in enhancing customer experiences.

Research filming

Understanding Research Films

A research film is an approach that utilizes visual media, such as photography, videography and sound, to document, analyze and understand people within their natural environment. Stemming from anthropological roots, visual research offers a holistic understanding of human behavior by capturing both verbal and non-verbal cues, environmental contexts, and cultural nuances. By immersing researchers in the everyday lives of participants, visual research goes beyond surface-level observations, uncovering deep-seated insights that inform the design process.

  • Richer Insights

    Visual ethnography enables researchers to capture authentic moments and emotions, providing a nuanced understanding of user experiences that traditional methods might not reveal. By observing users in their natural habitat, researchers gain insights into unarticulated needs and pain points, allowing for more empathetic and user-centered designs.

    For example: We used visual ethnography in elderly people’s homes to observe and understand their attitudes towards managing their finances, revealing some surprising themes that challenge the cultural biases towards elderly customers.

  • Contextual Understanding

    Context plays a significant role in shaping user behavior and preferences. Visual ethnography allows researchers to explore environments in which interactions occur and identify how external factors influence user decisions. By understanding the context surrounding user experiences, designers can create solutions that seamlessly integrate into users’ lives.

    For example: By observing and filming a family as they hired a car for a family road trip we revealed valuable insights pinpointing areas where the company could improve child safety.

  • Enhanced Empathy

    Immersing into the users’ world fosters empathy among designers and stakeholders, leading to more inclusive and accessible products. Visual research engages with participants’ lived experiences, empathizing with their struggles, joys, and aspirations. This empathetic understanding drives the creation of designs that resonate deeply with users, ultimately enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

    For example: We followed Chitra to understand her behavior as she navigated the healthcare system in India, and opened up a number of opportunities for healthcare providers to create better, patient-centered services.

  • Stakeholder Engagement

    Images and videos have the power to convey narratives that resonate with audiences on a visceral level. Using engaging content, researchers can communicate insights in a compelling manner to internal stakeholders – from Product managers to CEO’s. This can significantly impact decision making and stakeholder buy-in in the development of a product or service.

    For example: We used wearable cameras to capture how kids interact with an AI assistant. Adult stakeholders felt again what it’s like to be a preschooler in a world built for adults and were quickly convinced of where and why to take action to design a product that works for real kids.

Putting Visual Ethnography into Practice

James Heaney, Principal Researcher in the Labs, shares his experience of using visual ethnography and the benefit for clients.

Visual ethnography offers a holistic approach to CX research, allowing researchers to delve deep into the lives of users and uncover rich insights. Embracing visual media as a tool for exploration and storytelling results in more informed problem solving and design decisions, and ultimately products that resonate with users on a profound level.

Incorporating visual ethnography into the research process is essential for staying attuned to the ever-changing needs and expectations of customers.

Ready to harness the power of visual research and create experiences that enrich the lives of users around the world?

Labs View: International Women’s Day 2024 Thu, 07 Mar 2024 18:03:58 +0000 Labs View: International Women’s Day 2024

In celebration of International Women’s Day 2024, we invited the remarkable women of Sutherland Labs to share their perspectives on fostering an empowering work environment, as well as their views on how the industry at large can pave the way for a more inclusive future.

London team

How does Sutherland Labs promote diversity in the workplace?

We are a human-centric organization, and that is evident to the very core. That’s not just a term we throw around, or how we carry out our research, it’s also how the organization is run. As a woman, I feel heard and seen. This is a workspace where there are no dumb questions, just curiosity – and that’s an attitude that encourages people to take part and feel included. – Mel Wadey, Senior Design Researcher

Half of the Labs leadership team (and more than half of our staff) is women. We are included in every level of decision making, from establishing our core values, writing proposals for new client pursuits, hiring and staffing choices, strategic project direction, daily project work, and in project retrospectives.

Marise Phillips, Director of Service Design

What practices are effective in supporting women in Sutherland Labs?

The Labs are a very inclusive place. We practice what we preach! In our own internal workshops, there is no hierarchy, definitely no ‘boys club’, and the most quiet people on the team are given space and time to speak. – Mel Wadey, Senior Design Researcher

It’s embedded in our DNA. Owen Daly-Jones is a crucial ally in supporting and promoting women in our organization at every level. Many of our client stakeholders are women. Empathy, collaboration, and cooperation are central to the work we deliver, and everyone we hire at Sutherland Labs exemplifies these core attributes, regardless of gender.– Marise Phillips, Senior Director – Service Design

What advice would you have for women seeking to develop a career in our industry?

There are many opportunities out there to learn about what we do in the field of Design Research. I recommend that women seeking a career in this field read up on opportunities to develop the craft through hands-on practice via internships, conducting interviews with people you admire, producing short documentaries on topics that interest you, find nonprofits who serve causes that you care about, and offer to help them. Go to conferences, find local networking events. In my field of Service Design, there are two global organizations I recommend: the Service Design Network and the Global Service Jam. – Marise Phillips, Senior Director – Service Design

Women in tech are sometimes perceived as being qual-focused and grounded in the humanities as opposed to quant-focused men grounded in business. Whatever your skills set, consider how you might counter such stereotypes – by defending the validity of qual methods, showing off your quant expertise and demonstrating an understanding of triangulation. In other words, ensure you can bridge the (real or perceived) divide.

Senior Research Director

San Francisco team

How can women support each other in the industry?

If you have expertise, share it through informational interviews, mentorship, internships, and connections to others in your network. Be open and candid with one another about the gains made and challenges that remain. Amplify each others’ voices. – Marise Phillips, Senior Director – Service Design

Don’t put up with crap! Stand up for other women. – Senior Research Director

It’s just like any other industry, if we see women at the top of companies, it will seem like a much more achievable goal. I also think it’s important for companies to promote and support working mothers. To create a flexible working environment for mothers, and to make them feel valued, even if they sometimes have a sick kid hanging off them during meetings. – Mel Wadey, Senior Design Researcher

One of the most impactful ways we can keep making strides is by fostering a culture of support and solidarity among women! By lifting each other up and celebrating our victories, we can inspire and motivate future generations of women in the industry. Be vocal in challenging stereotypes and bias. By addressing this we can work towards creating a more equitable and inclusive industry for all women.

Digital Content Producer

Which women role models would you celebrate in our industry?

Kerry Bodine, is someone I admire in the field of Service Design – she’s articulate, prolific, a good storyteller, excellent analysis AND consulting skills. Also Sam Ladner, Indi Young, and Brene Brown. – Marise Phillips, Senior Director – Service Design

I’d celebrate ALL of our inspirational women in Sutherland Labs! After 20 years I’m still humbled by learning from the most amazing and diverse minds – it’s a joy and an honor. – Gemma Wisdom, Senior Director – Marketing

I would celebrate my mother, Joelle Stemp, who has run her own independent UX design agency for over 25 years.

Mel Wadey, Senior Design Researcher


Thank you to all our amazing Labs women for sharing their views. Remember to sign up for our newsletter to keep in touch!

Labs Life: Getting to Know Charlee Jones Wed, 14 Feb 2024 14:26:18 +0000 Labs Life: Getting to Know Charlee Jones

Welcome to our regular series in which you can get to know the Sutherland Labs team a little better. This time, we had the pleasure of connecting with Charlee, our invaluable Business Operations Manager, the glue that holds our team together! From navigating the world of film distribution to mastering costume design and even embracing the thrill of Roller Derby, discover Charlee’s fascinating journey to Sutherland Labs.

Women walking in woods

What did you do before you came to Sutherland?

After University I worked in the film industry for Warner Bros, Sony Pictures and Vertigo Films distributing theatrical films to cinemas, before moving to Twentieth Century UK in administration, financial reporting, training support, and coordinating subtitle and dubbing requirements from our international offices and licensees. I spent time in UK Marketing helping to manage marketing strategies, events, publicity, promotions, press screenings and premieres, before becoming  PA to Vice President EMEA Finance. There I learnt a lot about the legal side of film distribution and contracts, and as a PA I was really able to flex my organisational skills.

My career in the film distribution came to an end after 13 years, after which I moved into film production in the costume department. I worked on a horror feature film that has since gone on to win multiple awards at film festivals and this was looking like an avenue I would pursue until the big world event that put a lot on hold for a lot of people. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about c 2019.

I joined Sutherland Labs in March 2022 and I haven’t looked back, it has been one of the best career decisions I have made.

Outside of work I played Roller Derby, a grass roots, not for profit full contact sport on quad roller skates played on a flat oval track. By the skaters, for the skaters. A game where offence and defence are played simultaneously, a lot of tactics involved and often very heavy hits and body checks. I spent a couple of seasons as a Director, A-Team Captain, Coach, rostered on Team England for a season, and coached the men’s London Team to European Champions. Lots of international travel, training, competitions, broken bones and after parties; it was definitely one crazy adventure.

Image credit: Photography by Dino

Image credit: Photography by Dino

What would the ten year old version of you say that they wanted to be when they grew up?

Oof, 10 year old me?!  You’re expecting me to remember? I can tell you that I have wanted to be many things over the years; from a vet, to working in conservation, a photographer, a costume designer.

I studied photography at University and left wanting to pursue a career as a live music and creative portrait photographer, inspired by Mario Testino and David LaChappelle. Alas this industry is a rather tough nut to crack and whilst I had a number of unpaid jobs the paid gigs were hard to come by. I will always consider myself a photographer though; mainly now focusing on nature, found objects, light, line, shape and shadow. It’s my main creative passion. It’s how I portray the world as I see it.

I’ve always had a passion for subcultures and how we use our fashion as a costume to present our character and personality to the world. The more I watched movies the more I realised how costume is a key storytelling piece and when done well, you don’t even notice. It draws you into the world, the character, the story. The likes of Sandy Powell, Colleen Atwood, Milena Canonero and Jenny Beaven, and fashion designers such as Jean Paul Gauliter, Vivienne Westood and Alexander McQueen inspired me to want to be a costume designer.

I spent a few years working on my own costume portfolio, from design, to crafting and organising photo shoots. I had full creative freedom to create exactly what I wanted to; from Wizard of Oz inspired apocalypse costumes, to costumes inspired by the ocean; jellyfish, octopi, mermaids, barnacles, pirates and fishermen.

Image credit: John Hesse

Image credit: John Hesse

What is the unique talent that you bring to Sutherland?

Being creatively organised. I like to find creative solutions and ways to display data that could otherwise be quite sterile.

What has been your best experience while working with Sutherland?

It’s hard to single out one experience, but as a whole, working with this team is the best part about working with Sutherland.

I haven’t arrived at UX Research in a particularly conventional way but it’s such a fascinating industry made all the more enjoyable by our fantastic team, willing to share, support and educate.

What do you do for fun?

My partner and I purchased an ex-ambulance which we converted into a campervan. Not only has it been fun (and an experience) making it our own home, we have enjoyed going on adventures across the country, with a hope to travel over to Europe, and eventually up into the arctic circle.

We love travelling in our van and hiking with our best friend (our dog); we all managed the three peaks this year; Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Yr Wyddfa.  Among other mountains and hills across Scotland, England and Wales.

I’m a bit of a collector, loving all things natural, curious and odd, so along our adventures I enjoy collecting things we find along the way;  bones, wool, shells, rocks, to name a few. Our adventures also give me the perfect photo opportunities.

I love crafting and making things; headpieces, masks, embroidery, sewing, sculptures, and odd things. I even dabble in a bit of taxidermy occasionally.

What inspires you?

I consider myself to be an optimistic realist, I stand somewhere on the boundary, understanding that in order for there to be brightness there must be darkness also. A balance. Though there is always light at the end of the tunnel, there will be challenges along the way. Ultimately that balance throughout life is what inspires me. Nature, life, death, beauty, horror and all that’s in between.

This balance and intrigue leads me to find inspiration almost anywhere; in the great outdoors, music, movies, photography, costume, performance, drag, architecture, design, relationships, people, animals, actions, inactions, conversations, stillness, quiet, dark, light.

Do you have any pets?

Yes, an Australian Cattle Dog. She is our world, she is very smart and likes to play (A LOT), so she certainly keeps us on our toes, which isn’t a bad thing! We’re hoping to add to our family with another Cattle Dog this year.

An Award-Winning App for Young Patients Mon, 23 Oct 2023 16:34:33 +0100 An Award-Winning App for Young Patients

We partnered with Corporation Pop to help them develop Xploro®, a pioneering patient app that combines AR, AI and gameplay to make patients feel empowered and engaged, and improve clinical outcomes.

All images: Sutherland Labs

All images: Sutherland Labs

The Challenge

After his daughter Issy was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer in 2011, Dom Raban (Chair of Corporation Pop) found there was a significant lack of information for parents and children faced with long-term cancer treatment.

What information there was, was directed at us as parents, which left my daughter feeling isolated and ignored. She was resistant to treatments because their purpose wasn’t explained to her beforehand and she was scared of going to hospital as she didn’t know what to expect.

Dom Raban, MD Corporation Pop

Issy was not alone in this experience. Research shows that patients who are not well informed about medical procedures and treatment experience increased levels of stress and anxiety, which can lead to delayed procedures or lost hospital resources and often results in poorer medical outcomes.

While clinicians often advise that children attend play therapy prior to treatment, resources in hospitals are spread thinly and play therapists themselves are asking for solutions fit for a naturally digital audience. Building on this, Corporation Pop decided to develop a solution which would improve child patient experiences by giving them access to a wide range of information in a fun and engaging way.

The Approach

To ensure that the digital solution would meet the needs of its users, Sutherland Labs worked closely with Corporation Pop developers across three rounds of research. Ethnographic research took place in hospitals involving children with serious conditions, families, clinicians and support staff to understand needs and responses to initial design concepts for what became the Xploro® app. In subsequent rounds we reviewed the iterated concepts with similar user groups.

Over the course of development our insights were used to guide the application of AR in a way that was compelling and useful, as well as optimising features such as chatbot advisors to suit the particular linguistic, cognitive and contextual needs of this audience.

The Results

The launch and continued success of Xploro® – a health information platform that uses AR, gameplay and AI to deliver health information to young patients, in a way which makes them feel empowered, engaged and informed, whilst having fun at the same time.

As well as winning several awards, the app has been proven to:

  • Reduce patient anxiety
  • Improve patient health literacy
  • Lead to better engagement with health services
  • Improve clinical outcomes
  • Reduce need for sedation
  • Reduce in repeat procedures
  • Improve overall patient experience

And, while the app was initially designed for children with cancer, the team behind Xploro® are building a health information platform for any age of condition. For further details visit the Xploro® website.

Xploro, is one of many services we have worked on in the Health and Wellness industries – learn more by contacting us below: 

A Smarter Approach to Customer Support Tue, 28 Apr 2020 16:19:00 +0100 A Smarter Approach to Customer Support

Our client wanted their digital customer support to work better for customers.

They began by looking at the current experience in a holistic way, involving both their customers and their own support agents.

Customer Journey Maps and Personas identify pain points and reveal opportunities for innovation

Customer Journey Maps and Personas identify pain points and reveal opportunities for innovation

The Challenge

Our client, a major technology brand, needed to make improvements to the support experience for their digital work tools. While analytics had identified pain points in distinct areas of the experience they lacked a full picture of how customers were using their digital support channels, or the role that customer service agents played in that process.

To build an effective strategy for the future they needed to understand real customer behaviors around support.

The Approach

Over a series of engagements we helped our client gain a better knowledge of the end-to-end support experience of customers, as well as gather intelligence from their own customer support agents.

Workplace Shadowing with Agents and Home Visits with Customers

We spent time with both customers and agents in their own environments, observing each as they dealt with support issues in real time. Immersive research methods helped us to reveal both the issues users could vocalize, plus unspoken needs and desires. Furthermore we explored problem solving strategies and the language or terminology used by customers and agents to feed into the design of a future support experience.

Customer Journey Mapping and Personas

Our team translated research insights into Customer Journey Maps, providing a holistic view of support journeys for key customer types. These maps, alongside rich behavior based personas helped to identify further pain points and opportunity areas – such as the desire among users for greater self-serve.

Prototyping the Future Support Experience

To inform future design direction, our UX designers produced wireframes to be used as tools to illustrate, test and refine design recommendations as they might appear in future support journeys.

The Results

Our engagements have provided the client deep insight into what makes an ideal support experience from both customers and their own agents. This has been instrumental in shaping their future digital experience.

70+ design recommendations were implemented to improve the overall support experience, including navigation, page design, terminology, content.

40% reduction in support volume since improvements to navigation, self-serve channels and UI design.

Reimagining Graduate Hiring in Healthcare Thu, 21 Nov 2019 15:59:44 +0000 Reimagining Graduate Hiring in Healthcare

Our client wanted to rethink their entire approach to hiring graduates.

The global healthcare and pharmaceutical brand was investing in graduate programmes in EMEA, but a low proportion of these graduates converted into full time positions.

Graduate insights report

The Challenge

Leaders were questioning the effectiveness of graduate hiring in EMEA, and wanted to see a more strategic approach that would better serve the needs of the business. The hiring and retention of new capabilities is critical to the long term health of the organization and for building a talent pipeline for the future.

We devised an approach to help our client understand pain points in the current graduate experience, identify opportunities for innovation, and to build a strategic roadmap for the future.


Research activities

The Approach

Voice of the Customer Research

We knew that exploring graduate needs was important, but to improve internal confidence and create a shared vision for the future we wanted to view the challenge from many different perspectives. To gain a wide view we began with a ‘voice of the customer’ study, during which our teams carried out over 150 in depth interviews and focus groups with business leaders, HR and Talent leaders, graduates and hiring managers from 5 key sites across the organization.

Strategy Workshops

Next, we analyzed and unpacked these insights in collaborative workshops with the client, mapping out graduate journeys and creating behavior based personas. These artefacts were used as communication aids internally, and also helped to illustrate design recommendations to create a more user friendly user experience.

All activities fed into and culminated in a clear and executable strategy for graduate hiring, which was tailored to be delivered to different levels of the organisation.


“When you’re designing workplace systems to support graduates you need a deep understanding of their needs, behaviors and expectations.”

Anton Artemenkov – Creative Director, Sutherland Labs

The Results

Strategic Roadmap

We helped to develop a holistic, multi-year, EMEA-wide strategy for graduate hiring and development which received full leadership support.

Key insights were translated into workstreams spanning Planning, Attraction, Selection, Onboarding, and Development stages of the graduate journey.

The client has since launched a Planning Toolkit to help capture capability and business needs and ensure they are hiring strategically for the future. As well as, a  new ‘go to market’ approach on campus and a marketing campaign to enhance their Attraction strategy.

“The VOC Research has really helped us to accelerate this initiative and ensure we have the customer at the centre of our approach – thank you!”

Vice President HR EMEA, Global Healthcare and Pharmaceutical brand 

]]> An Employee Led Digital Workplace Strategy Wed, 23 Oct 2019 14:43:23 +0100 An Employee Led Digital Workplace Strategy

Our client had ambitious plans to improve the daily working lives of employees.

The financial institution had a workforce and working practices were disparate and varied, spanning 7,000 employees in 25 countries. They wanted to build a strategy for digital channels and workplace tools that would increase productivity, build community and lead to more contented employees overall.

The Challenge

To develop a strategy to meet these aims and increase the likelihood of employee adoption, we needed to ground ourselves in the needs of their employees. Our goal was to understand employees day to day challenges and pain points, their preferred tools and workarounds, and to do this at scale to account for employees in multiple locations across the world.

Exploring employee needs

The Approach

To capture insights from a large number of employees we began with a survey, which helped us to refine the focus for subsequent rounds of immersive fieldwork. Over the next 2 months, our team travelled to six countries to interview and shadow a range of employees in their own work environments to understand their workflows, day-to-day working practices, tools, and obstacles. We also used remote interviews to reach employees in another six countries, and to ensure we covered a representative range of roles and responsibilities.

I used to think innovation was in motion here, but I just don’t see it happening as quickly as it should be. Or it’s change for no apparent reason.

Sample participant

Employees in the workplace

The Output

The insights from all rounds of research gave our client a rich picture of how employees really work, including the organisational culture, tools and processes, and current challenges. This fed into their overall digital workplace strategy, with more specific outputs including:

  • Behavior-based personas as a tool for creating empathy for employees amongst stakeholders making strategic decisions.
  • Digital channel strategy recommendations including collaboration tools and internal communications, broken down into quick wins and long term goals.
  • Employee experience best practices which were rolled out as use cases across the business.
Design thinking to improve candidate experience Thu, 08 Jun 2017 15:21:26 +0100 Design thinking to improve candidate experience

Our parent organization, Sutherland, asked us to experiment with new ways of approaching existing recruitment challenges through a Design Thinking approach.

talent acquisition workshop


In an extremely competitive marketplace, how might we better attract the right talent? How can we improve retention by better understanding the end-to-end recruitment and employment journey of our employees? These are some of the questions Sutherland Labs have been tackling in our own organization – working alongside our Talent Acquisition teams.


We used immersive research to ‘walk in candidates shoes’ to understand a candidate journey throughout the recruitment process. We created behavioral personas, helping to segment, identify ‘star’ target audiences and better understand their idiosyncrasies. We also created journey maps that gave a visual representation which help to articulate pain points and crucial insight that often lead to ideas for improvements and solutions.

Talent acquisition journey maps


The insights helped our colleagues to reframe the story during the recruitment process, which in turn impacted their messaging, advertising and social media activity. The results have included a significant increase in social media followers and engagement, following a reworked advertising campaign. The project also contributed towards wider strategic goals of improving employee engagement, and aided a change of mindset within HR functions.