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Philips Service Design Challenge

Wellbeing at work for non-EU citizens in Italy


Philips Experience Design




Ellen MacArthur Foundation


Project Manager

Design researcher

Video editor

Workshop facilitator

Design team

Annis Alfansi

Marco Biferale

Srishti Chauhan

Fernanda Dib

Stefania Mariani

Meutia Rahmadina


Milan, Italy


8 months

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User research




This project focuses on easing non-EU citizen's transition into the Italian workworld after their graduation from Italian universities. The results shown below trace the different steps of the research up until the start of the service development phase.

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Project timeline

Foreign labour in Italy

Brain drain and low retention rates

Italy is the 4th country with the largest foreign population in the EU, with a total of 5.2 million international citizens.

The country spends circa 35 million  euros annually on attracting international students, but after graduation, most of them leave the country.

However, Italy needs this young foreign labour force for several reasons:

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Foreign workers contribute at a 9% rate to Italy’s GDP.

They provide new skills, stimulate international trade and contribute positively to long-term fiscal balances.


Italy has a critically aging population (24% are aged 65 or older).

Elderly people are at risk as their pension depends on the national reserve coming from taxes paid by working professionals.


The country is experiencing a brain drain phenomena from Italian citizens who choose to work in other EU countries with higher wages.

How might we improve the wellbeing of non-EU citizens transitioning to the workforce by incentivizing cross-cultural exchange, internationalization, and integration?


Understanding our end-users and stakeholders

We carried over 18 interviews with non-EU citizens either studying or working in Italy. In parallel we also spoke to relevant organizations, university partners, employers and managers working in international companies in the country (Design Group Italia, Yes Milano, Tangity, UNICEF...)

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A team-member and I interviewing one of our stakeholders

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Interview boards

Service safari & cultural probes

A tale of bureaucratic struggles

In order to better empathize with our end-users' struggles, our team went on several service safaris. We followed several non-EU citizen through their registration process in Italy, namely at the Tessera Sanitaria (Health office) and the Questura (Police Headquarters).

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User journey 2

Two user journey of non-EU citizens going through their registration process in Italy

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Screenshots of our video recording at the Tessera Sanitaria

Field trip & cultural probes

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Mapping the context and needs of each stakeholder was vital for us to understand the wellbeing issues faced by non-EU workers in the workplace.

While foreign workers are found to be beneficial to the economy and companies across various industries, there are constraints in place that prevent Italy from supporting their wellbeing.

The main stakeholders are the non-EU workers themselves, private companies, organizations, and governments.

Visualizing the economical and professional ecosystem

System map

Findings and opportunity

Preventing foreign brain drain

Italy understands the importance of non-EU foreign labour and offers great incentives (bursaries, cheap study opportunities) to attract them to the country.

However, after graduation, most non-EU students usually decide to leave for other EU countries (Germany, the Netherlands, France, Spain) due to the following factors:

  • hectic bureaucratic procedures

  • language barrier (Italian is still the main language at work)

  • lack of knowledge on how to navigate the Italian work culture.

Creating a strong personal and professional network in the country can motivate non-EU students to overcome common challenges more easily.


Co-creation workshop

Validation of our inputs and feedback collection

We organized a co-creation workshop with end-users and stakeholders. I was in charge of organizaing the session as well as leading the workshop facilitation. Our aim was to:

  • refine our understanding of the problem

  • get relevant feedback on our first MVS ideas.

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Myself facilitating the workshop

Key learnings

The workshop provided us with the following insights to implement in our MVS:

  • Provide users with information and support on how to navigate the Italian job market

  • Gather and provide feedback from non-EU citizens who have successfully landed a job in Italy to help non-EU students about the graduate.

  • Gather and provide feedback from non-EU student's experience throughout their journey of landing a job in Italy.

  • Consider partnering with universities to provide resources and support to students and alumni.

  • Find income streams which would allow us to build and develop this project.

Several workshop activities:
identifying our users' fundamental needs, free debate around prompt cards, reaction to our prototype...


A work in progress

Based on our research insights, we developed a first version of our MVS, Nuance, which we submitted to the Philips Design Challenge.

Nuance is a service that connects students, experienced professionals (mentors) and companies seeking international talents.

Wishing to go beyond the scope of the competition, we are currently still testing and reiterating this service with several end-users and stakeholders.

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Nuance storyboard

Nuance - First MVS

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Testing our MVS and prototype website with stakeholders

Key Learnings

Throughout this whole design process, I learned that:

  • as a team lead, delegating is vital for optimal productivity and to make sure every team member stays engaged throughout the design process.

  • too much data is counterproductive: once data starts getting redudant, stopping and making sense of it all is in order.

  • framing the correct problem from the start is essential to stir a team in the right direction, hence the importance of good data analysis.

  • interviewing and involving all of our stakeholders is a must to understand the entire scope of the problem.

Next steps

In the future, we want to proceed with the following steps:

  • finalize our MVS.

  • refine our current business model and test it with Italian HRs.

  • reach out to local and national partners to help us develop the project.

  • find international EU parters to scale our project.

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