Employee Onboarding

Employee Onboarding was a high profile project under the direction of a new Nordstrom Technology Vice President. The project goal was to ensure corporate employees had essential services, as defined by the VP, on their first day.


The employee onboarding experience suffered from opacity and slowness.

  • Hiring managers had employees unable to work on day 1.
  • Employees had a bad impression of the job they just started.


We met with new hires and hiring managers to understand their experiences. A few of the things these activities revealed:

  • The majority of hiring managers hire infrequently. As a result, they are unfamiliar with the process. Resources are available to support the manager; however, they are not provided to the hiring manager when they initially engage recruiting.
  • Hiring managers didn’t know when the employee data was available in the request system. The data had to be there to submit the request.
  • For corporate employees, a positive employee onboarding experience required a manager or admin that submitted the setup form far in advance and then “baby-sat” it.

We mapped out the hiring process end to end and identified the bottlenecks in the process as well as the data flow.


Next we needed to tackle the request form. There was no reporting, so we our engineers do data queries and exports. We pulled these into Tableau. And then met our next challenge–the form was used by a lot of people and only a fraction of the requests were to setup corporate employees.


Initially we thought to make a new form. We took a look at the back of the form; it was spaghetti. The different functions couldn’t be taken apart. We also couldn’t break the existing functionality. We didn’t have enough time to do full analysis and create a new form for each process, so we had to go into the darkness.


The usage data helped us unpack the form. We printed off all the various ways the form split into different workflows, and then mapped an annotated them to see where we could rearrange. We also had to pull in the functionality of several other forms, so the hiring manager would only need to submit one request.

Here’s a view of the form before we made changes:


In addition to the form, we needed to look at how the hiring manager and new hire could have visibility into the status of the request. Existing forms offered the ability to see status; however, it looked more like a log than an order status. This was another page to design.

Here’s a view of the old status page:


Eventually we took these pages into Axure to prototype a new experience. We went through many layout iterations. Eventually taking a 4-page request form down to 1 page.

Here’s a look at the form after:


And the status page after:


We also designed and created the html and css for the emails (the dev team didn’t have experience building emails, so we made them with a hack). We created four emails:

  1. the manager notification setup the employee
  2. the submission confirmation email
  3. the manager and new hire email when the request was complete
  4. the manager and new hire email if the request wasn’t complete by the employee’s start date

Here’s a look at an old email.


And the new email.

Onboarding Email HTML
Onboarding Email CSS
New Email
New Email

We also needed to create collateral to communicate the changes to stakeholders, so they could share the changes with their teams.



One goal of these changes was to have the employee setup complete within five business days from request submission. To measure the success or failure of our changes we implemented reporting. Below are the results. Although we haven’t been at 100% complete within 5 days for corporate employees, we have improved.


As a result of this project, we were able to surface greater organizational issues that add friction to the hiring process and inhibit the ability to conduct the process efficiently. The visibility raised led to new initiatives in service management, security, and the addition of a new product manager for the employee experience.