The University of Adelaide – reimaginging a new employee onboarding Experience

  • The university was struggling to create an experience for onboarding new hires that effectively conveyed the values of the university and connected people to its community.

  • This was the result of a lack of unified structure, coupled with a reliance on compliance and training.

  • The program required buy-in and support from stakeholders across the organisation to embrace a new way of working and implement change.

University of Adelaide, reimagining the employee experience case study.

The challenge

The People and Culture team serve over 3,500 members of staff. Making changes to processes is difficult with multiple layers of approvals and complex stakeholders buy-in required to implement and embrace changes. Often the ICT Department are seen as the gatekeepers, resulting in new solutions being technology-driven as opposed to starting with an understanding of why there is a challenge in the first place, then how, and who is affected, it is seen as easier to follow the status quo.


University of Adelaide, reimagining the employee experience case study

The solution

More Space For Light helped the organisation to change their approach to problem-solving. Over the course of 12 weeks we engaged over 120 staff through interviews, meetings, surveys, workshops, and public showcases. We worked with the University to  inspire creative thinking and support the team to reimagine a new starter onboarding experience.

We supported the program delivery by facilitating hands-on experience and training empowering key team members to become design thinkers and facilitators. Independent learning sessions for staff, regardless of their connection to the program, were included in our program delivery; this value-add broadened creative problem-solving capacity and adaptability for University staff, through exposure to our design thinking methodology and tools.

The impact

Our program facilitated the design of a new hire onboarding experience for the University. Working within the constraints of a large scale organisation, we created new and innovative ways to operate. The results delivered value to the existing onboarding experience while seeding new opportunities and collaborations. Opportunities were presented as either:

  • Ideas to test – People were confident that they could start piloting and testing these ideas without further need for exploration.
  • Ideas for further exploration – these were the ideas that have potential as well as multiple unknowns and potential dependencies to existing systems and processes. These were parked for  further review and stakeholder engagement.


University of Adelaide, reimagining the employee experience case study.

Beyond the program

To date, four of the seven ‘ideas to test’ are in the piloting and testing phase. New multidisciplinary teams from across the university have been established to run these projects. Elements from the ‘ideas that require further exploration’ will be incorporated where appropriate. 

The provision of our design thinking training and peer to peer mentoring has resulted in further demand to continue to use critical thinking and human-centered design methods across projects. The University has embraced our design thinking tools beyond the onboarding project which  has “led to further opportunities and ways of working to deliver outcomes”.


University of Adelaide, reimagining the employee experience case study.

Ceinwen Ahern, Director Org Performance, University of Adelaide

Just loved it! The team provided great facilitation, people felt safe to take risks, challenge the status quo and surface great ideas or solutions. Ultimately the More Space way of working enabled us to engage a significant cohort, understand their experience and pain points and design a better way that will benefit our people.

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