A top regional bank in the United States needed a streamlined process for onboarding new employees while welcoming and setting them up for success. The bank was using several separate systems for hires to complete paperwork and suffering from inconsistencies, lack of accountability, and barriers when starting a role. Our team was tasked with designing a new onboarding process in an engaging system to minimize the amount of time needed for a new employee to hit the ground running and get them excited about their new workplace.
The vision for this application was to transform the bank’s employee onboarding experience to simplify processes, expedite time to productivity, and improve engagement while creating a positive first impression and reducing turnover. Through the new portal, the bank focused on building a strong culture through a single system of interaction to reinforce a new hire’s confidence in their decision to become an employee.
For project kickoff, our team travelled to the bank’s headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio to conduct requirement sessions. Over three days we worked with bank stakeholders and employees to analyze the existing systems, processes, and tools that needed to be improved and replaced. By modernizing the onboarding experience, the bank wanted to create a positive first impression for new employees, make them feel welcome, and reduce stress during a major life event.
Our Principal Consultant led the UX segment with about 50 people, including stakeholders, employees, and technologists. As workshop assistant, I captured user feedback, recorded detailed notes, made observations, and discussed design requirements with the bank’s UX department.
Throughout discussions, three core user personas were identified: New Hire, Hiring Manager, and Recruiter.
Our team learned there was no process in place for new hires to get help. Sometimes, managers weren’t doing their job well, causing new hires to reach out to their recruiter, subsequently resulting in communication problems and a negative first impression.
Many employees said company culture is positive and a differentiator, but felt the lack of process for new hires reflected negatively on the business. They were energized about the company’s messages around diversity, inclusiveness, physical and social wellbeing, caregiving support, stress management, concierge tools, and financial readiness, and wanted to see that be part of onboarding from Day 1.
At the workshop, a timeline was captured to show the current process. The main idea was: “Make it easy to join, work, and grow.”
Throughout the day, our team learned what employees expect from an onboarding experience, what is most important on their journey, and the bank’s differentiators.
Side note: I don’t like using the word “hate.” This is not my handwriting :)
Employees had a lot of thoughts on what a new experience should be like. Simplification, clarity, and a defined roadmap were common themes.
Focusing on employee satisfaction through surveys, increased retention, and whether or not a new hire can start their job on day 1 were top points of measure.
Employees wrote down key words they use to describe what a new onboarding experience should entail. We put them together to form a mind map.
The “Apps We Love” exercise was the group ice breaker.
After returning from the workshop, we met as a team to discuss what we learned at the on-site sessions as well as technical requirements. Our Principal Consultant wrote an Experience Brief, containing project vision, goals, and learnings from the on-site.
Through a collaborative effort a Feature Map was outlined with content scheduled to display based on where the new hire and Hiring Manager is during the process. Our HR Subject Matter Expert began writing a process guide, based on the onboarding timeline. The Solution Architect, who uses Feature Maps in their workflow, began organizing technical requirements and writing user stories.
Some areas were determined to be out of scope, but noted for future state: Office Calendar, Open Positions, Assigning a Personal Banker, Employee Goals, and Virtual Agent. The Feature Map went through four revisions prior to stakeholder approval.
During the workshop, we learned the onboarding process was organized into different phases: Welcome (pre-boarding before Day 1 for both manager and employee), Orientation (Day 1–29), and On Your Way (Day 30–60). As part of these phases, I assisted our HR Subject Matter Expert with writing an email series to correspond with the portal.
Using the Feature Maps framework, a series of wireframes were created to propose a new user journey for onboarding. The top banner welcomes the hire with an area below for My Action Items, a list of tasks to complete before Day 1.
Our stakeholders requested a checklist concept that would integrate with their cloud HR system, Workday, and check off the items in ServiceNow automatically as completed. The Principal Consultant suggested a carousel concept, which was used to solicit initial user feedback before ideating on other formats.
In the countdown to Day 1, the portal shows relevant information at specific times to increase engagement. One week before their start date, the Get Ready for Your First Day section displays, containing personalized details about parking, arrival time, dress code, building access, coworkers, and Day 1 activities. The My Onboarding Team section displays contact information for their Hiring Manager and Peer Mentor in case of questions. As part of the workflow management system, Hiring Managers have access and visibility into an individual’s onboarding process.
After a new hire receives their offer letter, there is information to submit before Day 1. In this format, the bank also addresses first day anxiety by proactively providing information to help them get ready with details about parking, arrival time, dress code, building access, and passwords.
After making revisions to the wireframes with our stakeholders, we solicited feedback from current employees on how onboarding information was being presented for new hires. Right before the sessions, we found out that an integration with Workday would not be bilateral, meaning checkboxes in a checklist format would not automatically check off in the software. Going this route would be poor for usability. I started brainstorming workarounds.
Across two sessions, the wireframes were demoed with our stakeholders and 70 employees remotely. We wanted to know if the messaging was effective, their thoughts on a checklist concept, if they felt important information was missing, and if the sequence and content makes sense for someone new to the company.
The messages are pleasant, but not specific enough. It would be nice to see the content point out the goals for this phase of onboarding. Should we consider being more specific, and indicate the amount of time it will take to complete the tasks?
I think this is a lot of logins. In recruiting we struggle to get certain groups of candidates to complete the most basic tasks and this will require a high level of engagement. Will candidates know they are expected to sign on 8+ times?
A brief explanation of Action Items would be helpful. Would a personal document need to be handy and available to complete a given item?
Is there a way to have the checkbox complete itself once the individual has completed the form? If not, it needs more information so they know they need to manually check the box.
Not a fan of the tile based layout with scrolling left and right. My preference would be for a checklist based UI that shows all items in a single view. Agree items should check themselves off without user interaction required.
Using InVision Freehand during the design process, I made quick, rough sketches like these before and during the building of an interactive wireframe in Axure.
Pictured are a few sketches showing how the new hire’s My Action Items section might work in list, timeline, and tab-based formats The checklist with a modal window was an idea for a workaround.
Using the wireframe as a base, there was enough time scoped to design three variations of the content presented in the original wireframe. I designed two and a UI designer created one.
After stakeholder approval, the interactive design prototypes were presented to 3 separate focus groups consisting of 125 people. These are the questions that were asked and which design ranked the highest:
Which concept do you like overall?
46% liked #1 and felt it was efficient, clean, and easy to follow.
What messaging is most welcoming and reinforces the brand?
50% liked #1 and felt the design was energetic and fun.
Which Start Date and Time Remaining stands out the most?
32% liked #2 with the red circles with the number of days remaining.
Which task navigation do you prefer?
59% liked #1, feeling it was more logical, simple, and captures everything.
How much information is helpful for My Action Items?
47% preferred #1, believing more details would help with less questions though dull but effective in appearance.
Which format of Get Ready for Your First Day and Get to Know [Bank] reinforces company culture?
46% preferred #1, believing the information stood out more and points the reader where they need to go.
Which format of Thrive with [Bank] is best for showcasing health, well-being, and financial wellness?
38% liked the simplicity of #2
Which Connect with [Bank] section formats information most effectively?
52% liked #1, feeling the red box and larger text makes the information stand out more.
I feel more efficient when I see the checkmark and that I have completed something.
When I went through onboarding, at times I felt a little lost on what I was doing or needed to do. A checklist is a good idea.
Visually pleasing and welcoming. I prefer more information, especially since new employees can have more questions.
I liked the co-branding at the top and the clear visual into the percent completion on tasks and better visualization of all tasks would be helpful for me.
Concept 3 doesn’t feel like a to-do list. It’s not clear that I have tasks to do, which is confusing for someone not familiar with the system. Design 1 is overwhelming with too many things to do.
Less fluff and more content. I know who I am and I know where I am going to work. Get me to the important details, please.
Design 1 was most well-received during focus groups. Using this design, a few edits were made:
User stories were written by the Solution Architect; two Platform Engineers one front and one back developed the portal over eight development sprints. Our team held regular sprint demos with the client and collaborated closely with two internal Platform Engineers at the bank. Solid security requirements were a major development consideration. User acceptance testing was also conducted.
Video showing the interface for a pre-hire completing tasks before day 1.
Video displaying the interface that a new hire sees, along with new content.
Mobile view of the interface for a pre-hire, completing tasks on the go.
Mobile view of the new hire interface for accomplishing work from anywhere.
After releasing the new onboarding app, the bank sent a qualitative survey to 150 people who went through the process. These satisfaction ratings led to scoping additional software solutions for the bank.
Our team really likes this design and are very pleased with how tasks for new hires are incorporated. The internal feedback we’ve received is very positive and everyone is excited! This is a really great way to energize people. We are very happy!