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Employing Restaurant Menu Strategies in Human Resources

Originally posted: October 12, 2011 on TrishMcFarlane.com

Coming off of conference planning, I’m focusing my attention to some of the areas I love to study such as science and design.  I came across a fascinating design book that focuses on restaurant menu design.  While I have not had the opportunity to read Menu Design in America: 1850- 1985 by Steven Heller and John Mariani yet, the very idea of tactics restaurants use in their menu design to direct patrons is one I think we should examine, and possibly employ, in our practice of human resources.

There are many tactics that are used in how a menu is laid out.  Several of note that can be applied to the practice of HR are:

  • Drawing attention visually–  Do you ever notice that many menus draw a box around items they want you to buy?  Maybe you don’t consciously notice, but your subconscious does.  If we take that concept and create a communication plan that draws visual attention to the type of work HR wants to focus on, ultimately, we should see an increase in that type of work.
  • Grouping items–  Most HR departments have a policy manual printed or a version online.  If it’s online, there is usually an accompanying HR portal or webpage.  By having a specific plan on how we group the services offered by human resources, we can also steer our customers.  If there are certain activities that directly support organization goals, those should be grouped accordingly.
  • Order matters-  When it comes to the way our brains work, order matters.  The items at the top of a list are most likely to be asked for so if you are creating a list of HR service offerings, be sure to list them in a way that aligns with the type of work your department wants to focus on.
  • Appealing language–  When you open a menu, you are far more likely to choose the item if it is described in a way that makes it so appealing that you can’t possibly pass it up.  HR is no different.  Think about how we describe the work that we do and look for ways to use language to highlight the processes that align with the HR business strategy.

Just imagine if you, or your HR team, spent time focusing on the types of services you deliver versus the type you’d prefer not spending time handling.  We all say we want to spend more time on strategic initiatives so it makes sense that the first step is a plan of action that uses some of the restaurant menu design tactics to steer our internal customers to choosing for us to do that work.

What do you think?

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