University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) is the largest non-government employer in Pennsylvania with 60,000 employees.  UPMC lacked a universal on-boarding process, which directly affected their new employee retention rate. Onboarding is an important first-impression for a new hire.  This experience

helps the new hire transition in to a loyal UPMC employee.  The process is needed to be able to adapt to the different corporate departments and roles. Our vision was to disseminate a structured onboarding process that is flexible enough for the variety of the departments at UPMC.

The Problem

Worked on a team of 4 designers for a Masters level course, with UPMC Human Resources as our client.  We created a 5-phase modular system that allowed departments to customize to their specific needs.  They wanted to create a virtuous cycle where new employees have a

positive onboarding experience, grow with the company, and want to promote UPMC to the next generations of employees.  In order to do that we developed; a detailed timeline, “Welcome Buddy” program, online platform, and a modular “Welcoming Packet”.

Final Deliverables


Created a “Welcome Buddy” role for selected existing employees, to be assigned to new employees.  The Welcome Buddy shares responsibilities with the manager to ensure the new employee acclimates to his new position, while gaining practice-based leadership skills.

Developed an interactive online platform to guide hiring Managers and Welcome Buddies, as they go through the onboarding phases.  The new platform provides educational resources, downloadable materials, and automatic reminders of activities and milestones.

Provided a modular “fill-in-the-blanks” welcome packet to facilitate any UPMC team manager to quickly combine relevant information for the new hire, making it easier to create a personalized and up-to-date roadmap.

Created a detailed timeline with connection points to the platform.  An easy to follow guide that breaks down into mandatory and suggested steps, to help a new hire navigate and excite them about their career at UPMC.


As part of our research we created an “as-is” stakeholder and value map, for the current system in place.  This really highlighted how most of the on-boarding workload was supported by one person, this lead to valuable insights that guided the development of the new system.  A final updated “to-be” flow map was also provided.

The team spent several days observing the process in different departments and interviewing managers and employees.  We utilized several different interviewing approaches with current employees to understand where issues existed for them as new hires, and correlated common perception with root issues.   These interviews also helped the team understand how these issues had affected their perception of the company.  During our research we found one department that had a structured on-boarding process; their insights help guide our design.