How global HR consulting firm Mercer is innovating and solving the human capital challenge

One of the highlights of the upcoming National Innovation Mission will be a several-hour stop at Mercer, a global HR consulting firm.

Conceived as an innovation accelerator, the Mercer Innovation Hub adopts a focused, dedicated, and independent approach to disruptive innovation. The Hub is made up of a diverse group of Mercer colleagues from various businesses and regions, who use the power of their collective creativity, experiences, and skills to develop market-leading solutions.

The Mercer team will share some of their research and a two-hour design-thinking exercise will focus on an industry problem.

We caught up with a few executives at Mercer to learn more about their company and what IM participants should expect on the visit.

Tell us a little about Mercer:

Mercer is a human capital consulting firm, serving 110 million individuals across the globe by supporting their financial security; gaining access to affordable, quality healthcare; and preparing for the work of the future.

The Mercer Innovation Hub sounds like an amazing place. What are you all trying to accomplish with it?

The Mercer Innovation Hub was created to accelerate how Mercer addresses the unmet needs and pain points of employers and employees worldwide.  The Innovation Hub, with several teams across the globe, supports the main business of Mercer by developing new products and services as well as championing innovation culture with our consultants and clients.

Another key part of our new strategy is to proactively engage with the start-up community and acquire external talent and capabilities. We believe these activities will further accelerate the pace and the reach of our innovation efforts.

Is design thinking a core part of how Mercer operates and innovates? If so, why?

We apply the design thinking methodology to all projects to uncover and prioritize clients’ unmet needs and pain points.  This helps us uncover client issues that may not be addressed by current product offerings in the market. It also helps us validate our approach to solving client needs for existing products and services.  To make this work we combine design thinking with elements of lean start-up principles to develop new ideas quickly and effectively while incorporating market feedback along the way.

What kind of tools will Innovation Mission attendees learn about on this visit that might be practical to their line of work?

  • How to create a problem statement – a tool that helps shift the thinking away from solutions and towards customer (whether internal or external) problems
  • Basics of User Testing/Interviews
  • Building Personas
  • Understanding the effectiveness of cross functional teams for solving problems
  • How to evaluate innovation ideas at the organization level
  • Communicating Innovation (or any other ideas) Ideas to Senior Management

As a company that’s focused on the human capital challenge, what are some things you see as successful strategies for companies that are solving it?

For an organization to have success, we believe it will need to be more dynamic than the forces and trends that impact and reshape the organization. Technology disruption, societal changes and preferences, and other market forces are changing the competitive landscape at an accelerating pace. The work that organizations provide their clients will change, requiring a workforce that is ready for the future. We believe a workforce for the future will be (and subsequent to your questions, successful strategies will require a path to being) people-led and technology enabled with a workforce that is integrated to maximize employee productivity and value. We believe it will be built for speed, data-driven with exponential learning and a lab mind-set. We think it will be intentionally diverse (people, opinions, and actions) and have a clear purpose (socially responsible with careers people crave). Finally, we think firms need to be permanently agile, adaptive to changes, with a fluid talent eco-system that includes full-time, part-time, gig, and silicon-based workers.

*You can register for the National Innovation Mission here.*