Civic Disability Services

With unprecedented change impacting Civic, The Civic employee onboarding experience required rethinking and development.


Civic Disability Services is a disability service provider based in the South Sydney Australia.


Civic resources an in-house service design team which supports solving organisational challenges, ranging from strategy, insights, experience design.

The in-house service design role is one which grants freedom and automony to identify opportunties for innovation across the organisation. Various apects of the role included, project leading, coaching and mentoring in agile project management, and facilitating workshops using design thinking practices.

Key highlights of the experience:

  • Employee onboarding experience design research study
  • Coordinating with Harness Projects to deliver an advanced research study project with 20 students
  • Building communities of practice (CoPs) through fortnightly events and workshops.
  • Aggregation of marginal gains and 1% improvements
  • Client outcomes gap analysis

Of the several completed projects with Civic, in this post I will focus on our employee onboarding experience design study.

Service Design
HCD Workshops
Change management
Agile Project Management
User interviews
Diary studies
Unmoderated feedback
Grounded theory
Alignment diagrams and mapping
Adobe XD


Civic plans to understand and redefine the critical process that make up the business.

One of the critical processes that have been identified that make up Civic, is the end to end employee journey, and based on employee feedback, it was regarded that the onboarding experience required support, particularly given the change that’s impacted the organisation during the pandemic.


How might we improve the Civic employee onboarding for both those receiving and delivering the onboarding experience, so such that the Civic community is adequately supported to do their best in their role.

Our problem statement aimed to identify who we were designing for, and how to focus our efforts.

Research Questions

  1. What are the influences that Impact the Onboarding experience at Civic?
  2. What does the onboarding experience look like?
  3. What opportunities exist that could improve our onboarding experience?

Research Team

3-person cross functional team. With one Service Designer (myself), one HR Business Partner, and an Operations Manager.

Design Process

Our design process adopted the UK Design Council’s double diamond approach and integrated into a sprint program.

Yellow cards presenting the research questions. Blue cards represent sprints.

The sprints varied in cadence due to involvement required at each step. In general we aimed to complete each sprint within a two week period.

Research Summary

Using a grounded theory approach. We collated 5 key findings against our research questions. This were built up of 51 clues, which we paired with 65 recommendations.


A variety of artifacts were created for this project, largely around mapping the process and socialisation.

It was requested that an extensive report was also compiled to detail all aspects of the work that was done.

Alignment Diagrams

Employee Onboarding Experience Journey
View in Miro
Influence of Communication Challenges
View in Miro
Influences that impact users in onboarding
View in Miro


To prioritise the most viable next steps for the project, we discussed the recommendations, cascaded them and ran them through an Effort vs Impact Matrix.

Impact vs Effort Matrix
View Original
The Effort vs Impact matrix is a prioritisation technique that places a metric on relative impact and relative effort an item requires. This separates items into four quadrants.

After this process, we identified that the best steps forward align with the following 8 recommendations.

These recommendations have been presented with:

  • The description of the recommendation
  • Perceived consequences if the recommendation isn't followed
  • Our confidence that this will be effective
  • A relative effort score, based on a rollup of similar recommendations, and their effort / impact score.
A place to get acquainted

A place beyond fresh start. This doesn't have to be a physical space. This could be an opportunity to build communications with new starters that are asynchronous.

People will not get acquainted with the rest of the community. The ongoing divide will continue to build.

100% of interview participants spoke that they didn’t feel they were adequately aware of what support they had available to them throughout onboarding. People feel disconnected and unacquainted with others.

Effort Score

A cross functional delivery team

A cross-functional team of actors within the onboarding and induction process will support this delivery.

The delivery actors will remain unaware of who is processing through onboarding, work will continue to be double handled and problems will continue to arise yet not be communicated.

All of the recommendations in this report are actions, for actors. We need to be able to deliver actions with a team. This is the team needed.

The actors in this team exist in silos. As soon as we get connected with this team, we will be able to actually create and deliver an improved onboarding process. This is one of the only things required to reliably get improvements happening.

Effort Score

Get serious about knowledge management

Strengthen knowledge management practices and create shared expectations around the topic.

Knowledge management is a constant activity that requires careful planning and continued efforts.

Without knowledge management practices in onboarding, staff will continue to feel disoriented and disconnected from the business. If we do not manage our knowledge, we risk losing vital organisational knowledge if someone leaves.

Knowledge management requires a community of people working on improving knowledge management organisational wide.

There are groups starting to form at Civic around this. Such as the listening systems group. As well as a compliance group.  

However, knowledge management requires a focus on usability. How easy it is use and interact with the knowledge stored. Looking at the numbers of users in Civic Connect, people tend to not use this as a platform to learn about practices and processes.

Therefore we need to look into why this is and what we can do to improve access to knowledge at Civic.

Effort Score

Create mentoring opportunities

Create mentoring opportunities

Staff will not feel supported, we won’t learn about the activities staff are getting up to to perform in their roles, staff won’t grow at Civic, leading them to be disenfranchised.

Mentoring and 1:1 connections can look different in many ways. It was strongly requested and backed by the onboarding workshops we delivered.

Some of the treats to pure mentoring, are different PLs giving information to SWs that conflict with what their manager expects. This is something that needs to be considered, and whenever a query like this arises, we can use this as a learning opportunity for greater Civic.

Effort Score

Encourage speed and reliability for onboarding related tasks

Encourage speed and reliability for onboarding related tasks so that HR and delivery actors can spend more time dealing with building a quality service.

This has a heavy reliance on HRIS and the capabilities within it. If done incorrectly, we’re going to continue to pile overheads on top of the already busy delivery requirements of onboarding staff.

As long as the right platform is selected, we have strong confidence that this will dramatically improve the onboarding experience for staff, both those delivering and those receiving.

Effort Score

Love thy staff

Service the new starters: Love thy staff. Seek personalisation, give information directly and listen to their challenges.

Without treating staff with care and support, staff will leave! It has been referenced again and again through Civic Conversations and other means — Staff are our most vital resource, for knowledge, value and customer satisfaction.

This is dependent on being relieved on the major overhead efforts that the HRIS will cover. As well as an engaged delivery team.  However, we can still get started on servicing new starters, such as weekly check-ins as they go through there first few weeks.

Effort Score

Get to know recruitment

Further study into what makes a successful recruitment in order to best set the onboarding up for success.

We know that onboarding is dependent on a successful recruitment period. Onboarding will never be setup for success if our recruitment process always leaves it running late.

We know this is a dependent piece of work for onboarding, as the two of them work and in hand together. Various research participants noted that their experience started when looking for jobs and applying.

Effort Score

Measure what Matters

Create listening mechanisms throughout the key moments in the process.

Measuring moments that matter requires a mindset change and systems change.
Staff are overwhelmed with the here and now in their roles, there’s no time to reflect, listen and understand where the fault points are in our systems.

Without careful measurement, we will focus on the wrong things, or won’t pick up on problems to solve. We will continually be running on the emergency tank and won’t be able to predict when challenges arise.

Measurement requires belief from those measuring that what they’re doing is of use to everyone. Platforms and Props needs to be chosen that’s accessible to support global measuring at Civic.

Effort Score


This was a challenging project that involved immersing team members with competing priorities through a design process.

It’s opened my eyes to the value and importance that technology plays in our employee experience and how it’s only increasingly important as we evolve to hybrid workforces.

If you’d like to learn more about my approach to this project or other initiatives that I’ve been a part of at Civic. Please get in touch.