Employee Resource Groups (ERG)
ERG empowers leaders to build stronger teams, foster creativity, and improve business growth
by embracing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB)
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Global Phenomenon Discovery
Harvard Business School survey research shows approximately 80% of employees expect leadership to drive Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) initiatives for meaningful workplace transformation, while companies grapple with fulfilling these expectations amidst pressure from investors, regulators, and customers.
Business Opportunity
Benivity recognized this need and embarked on developing an Employee Resource Group (ERG) solution to cater to existing and potential customers, expanding its product ecosystem to enhance adoption and retention.
Several market insights and sales surveys conducted prior to my involvement underscored the demand
for a tool to facilitate and revamp the DEIB experience. 
My Role
As the senior product designer in the team, I collaborated closely with a product manager,
a team of engineers, a product marketer, and key leadership stakeholders. Taking the lead in the design initiative -
guided the project from strategy workshops to data-informed user flow iterations,
playing a pivotal role in the pioneering development of this ERG product.
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The main challenge was to repurpose a cloud-based B2C community platform for B2B use as an ERG community tool, facilitating engagement between organizations and their employees while promoting
a DEIB environment in the workplace within a constrained timeframe.
From a product design standpoint, three key sub-challenges were addressed:
☁︎ #1  Integrating Design Systems
• Customizing an existing product posed challenges in integrating components from different design systems.
• Require extensive adaptation to fulfill new requirements, involving not only UI reskinning
but also rethinking user interaction (UxD).
My Approaches
--- 1a. Conduct Comprehensive Design Audits ----
Review and analyze the existing design systems and components to understand their structure, functionalities,
and limitations. Identify reusable components and design patterns that align with the new requirements of the ERG community tool. Collaborate with Design System (Skyline) team members to defined rules and standards for adapting components and maintaining consistency across the UI. While develop a unified set
design guidelines that bridge the gap between the different systems with the engineers.

--- 1b. Prioritize User-Centric Design ---
Conduct user research and usability testing to understand how users interact with the existing product and
identify pain points, also to learn how employees generally engage with like-minded people within
an organization, as well as how to increase the discoverability of type of affinity groups within
a company for organizations. Use insights gathered to inform the adaptation of
UI elements and the redesign of user interactions.
--- 1c. Iterative Prototyping and Testing ---
Prototype different design solutions and variations to explore the best approaches for integrating components and fulfilling new requirements. Test prototypes with users to gather feedback and validate design decisions,
iterating as necessary. Meanwhile, work collaboratively with the engineers to map the
information architecture and system flow and find the most feasible solution on the spot.

A screenshot of the original user signup welcome screen

An overview of the new ERG user signup flow for the system integration 

☁︎ #2  Balancing Design and Code
• Finding a middle ground between design and code involved discovering new use cases within user flows.
• Navigating technical constraints within the existing code-base was essential for effective implementation.
My Approaches
--- 2a. Thrive Cross-Functional Collaboration ----
Encourage open communication channels for sharing insights, feedback, and solutions throughout the design and development process (relevant point in 1a and 1b). Foster close collaboration between design, product, and engineering teams to ensure alignment and understanding of both design objectives and
technical constraints (relevant point in 1c).

--- 2b. Promote Modular Design and Development ----
Adopt a modular design approach that breaks down complex user flows into smaller, manageable components. Develop modular code structures that facilitate flexibility and scalability, allowing for
easier integration of new features and functionalities (relevant point in 1b and 1c).
--- 2c. Continuous Testing and Feedback Loop ----
Collaborate with user researchers to implement a continuous testing and feedback loop to identify and
address technical constraints and usability issues throughout the design and development lifecycle. 
Solicit feedback from both internal stakeholders and end users to inform iterative improvements and optimizations.

Ref. 2c - A screenshot from one of the development tests based on the
pre-existing codebase co-responding to the UX iterations 

Ref. 2c - A screenshot to showcase the updated user interface based on the desired user engagement flow according to the usability test outcome

☁︎ #3  Cultivating Collaborative Environment
Fostering collaboration amid diverse working styles was crucial, especially in the context of organizational culture immersion post Benivity's acquisition of Chaordix. This ERG project served as a pioneering effort, requiring alignment and cooperation among team members with varying backgrounds and approaches.
My Approaches
--- 3a. Establish Clear Communication Channels ----
Advocate for transparent and accessible communication channels to facilitate collaboration among team members. Exercise and craft a workflow for core product development collaborators from product, design and engineering teams. Utilize project management tools like Slack, Jira, and Figma to streamline communication and ensure that all team members stay informed and engaged (relevant point in 2a).

--- 3b. Create Shared Goals and Objectives ----
Facilitate workshops with the product manager to help define clear project goals and objectives that
align with the overarching mission and vision of the organization. Establish a shared understanding of
product development priorities and expectations to ensure that all team members
are working towards common goals through open canvas design sprint workshops.

--- 3c. Encourage Diversity and Inclusion ----
"Walk the talk" - embody the DEIB principles in creating the Employment Resources Groups (ERGs) product. Celebrate diversity and embrace inclusion by creating a supportive and inclusive work environment where all voices are heard and valued. Support a culture of respect and openness, where differences in backgrounds, perspectives, and approaches are recognized as strengths rather than barriers (relevant point in 2c).

Ref. 3a - Synthesize the UXR data into user behaviour profiles and user journey as part of the stakeholder's communication document and product development references 

Ref. 3b - Collaborative canvas highlights from the design thinking and design sprint workshops
(including product marketing insights mapping)

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The beta version of the product was successfully launched on schedule, following three months of internal testing leading to
the Alpha release and an additional four months of preparation for the external release with select enterprise customers.
Throughout this journey, we conducted multiple rounds of usability testing, validating the following hypotheses:
These validated hypotheses provided valuable insights into user behaviour and preferences, guiding the ERG community tool's development and refinement to better meet the needs of ERG (Affinity Group) users.
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#1 Improved User Engagement
Leveraging shareable links in Slack, with an API integration, as the primary entryway to access ERGs aligns with users' existing workflows and habits, making it easier for employees to discover and join ERG communities.
This convenience can lead to increased engagement and participation.
#2 Enhanced User Onboarding Experience
Knowing that employees are willing to spend 3 - 5 minutes signing up for an ERG community suggests they are motivated to engage with the platform. Designing a streamlined and user-friendly signup process can enhance
the onboarding experience, reducing friction and encouraging more users to become active members of
ERG communities to fulfill their desire to belong.
#3 Optimized User Interface and Navigation
Recognizing the importance of search and browsing functionalities as primary activities for users within the ERG community post-signup highlights the need to prioritize these features in the product design. By emphasizing intuitive search and browsing capabilities, users can easily discover relevant content, connect with other members, and engage with the community effectively.
#4 Increased Adoption and Retention
By aligning the product design with users' preferences and behaviours, such as leveraging familiar tools like Slack and emphasizing efficient signup processes and intuitive navigation, the likelihood of users adopting and continuing to use the ERG community platform increases. This lead to higher retention rates and
a more active and vibrant ERG community overall. (Enterprise customers have reported)
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☀︎ Nurturing teamwork   ☀︎ Building trust and alignment  ☀︎ Celebrating innovation and openness
Overall, the key takeaways revolve around the importance of systematic integration, collaborative problem-solving, inclusivity, and celebration of teamwork. These takeaways help inform future product design efforts and contribute to the success of similar projects.
Key Collaborators
Product Manager  |  Kerri Bremner
Product Marketing Manager  |  Chad Neufeld
Program Manager (Accessibility)   |  Scott Herron
Director of Engineering  |  Eric Bouwsema
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