The Home Depot: Cares LOA Portal

Designing a compassionate Leave Of Absence process

Project Summary: 

My team and I were tasked with creating a “North Star” leave of absence process for The Home Depot Enterprise. We were given the broad goal of redesigning their current system with the aim of being industry-leading and guided by a philosophy of compassion.

It was imperative create a system that mitigated the burden of complex laws and paperwork for our users. We set out to create a centralized leave of absence website.

This hub would:

guide the associate through the initial stage of filing for a leave of absence

provide them with their key point of contact (case specialist)

provide access to all pertinent information about their benefits and PTO options

introduce them to additional aid for which they may be interested in applying

My Role: UX Design

I worked on surveys, user interviews, affinity mapping, design studios, comparative analysis, topical research, user flows, wireframes, prototyping,  and copywriting. 

Gathering Information:

I found that Home Depot associates have many points of contact in the LOA process and there is no clear indication of who is responsible for what.

I created a hierarchy of the LOA process starting from the highest level of government to the associate. 

Mapping Websites:

The key takeaways were: 

  • Much of the paperwork is dictated by the law

  • Company benefits have a large impact on how the associate will need to complete paperwork, especially with insurance

  • Home Depot's benefits and support options I discovered that it is all scattered between several websites that are not connected in any easily comprehensible way. 

Comparative Analysis:

We did not have access to Home Depot's current portals or process. It wasn't possible to find examples of other company's as well. We decided that the best way forward was to use an analogous process such as filing taxes. We compared industry leaders to identify some best practices. 

Key takeaways:

Abundance of visual feedback at every step

Access to additional information about current step of process on that screen

Overview of entire process laid out and easily accessible

Documents can be filled out and filed digitally

Persistent global navigation

User Interviews:

Some patterns in the user interviews:

Users had difficulty navigating the Leave of Absence Process

The amount of paperwork is overwhelming especially when you don’t know where to get what paperwork from.

There is always a missing document which can potentially disconnect you from crucial benefits.

When asking for help the users were sent in circles to different managers and HR representatives.

Those that had a close relationship with their HR representative had an easier time navigating the system.

Persona & Journey map:

With all of the above information gathered, I created a persona and a journey map for her with my team. We began iterating solutions based on Sarah and her journey.

User Flows:

I created several user flows based around key actions an associate would need to take to initiate a leave of absence. I decided to focus on a medical leave. I did this because it was important to make the process accessible and easy for those with the least amount of time. We felt that solving for medical leave would trouble shoot for the largest amount of possible problems that could crop up.

Low Fidelity Wireframes: 

After drafting sketched wireframes of potential layouts. I began putting together a low-fidelity prototype. 

Some solutions we included in this prototype were: 

A central hub

A family portal for filing on behalf of an incapacitated associate

access to support via other Home Depot websites

global navigation that included access to information on benefits, time off, a LOA checklist, and a "My info" page that provides the associate with contact info for a case specialist

The main flow for initiating medical leave includes: 

a progress bar

a calendar for scheduling time off

visual reminder of the amount of paid time off currently available 

The Certification of Health Care Provider Form was the most important piece of paperwork that needed to be completed in order to initiate leave. We included an option for the user to fill it out digitally and then fax it to their health care provider with instructions on how to complete it and file it on behalf of the associate.  

At the end of the initiating process, the user is shown a checklist of what they've completed and are then taken back to the home screen.

Usability Tests: 

We began testing with the prototype immediately and made adjustments. 

Modifications encompassed: enhancing the visibility of the short-term disability alert, as well as eliminating a path that led the user to The Homer Fund application procedure


editing out the links to other websites in order to keep the focus on the leave of absence process

The external links were replaced with a document checklist and management portal 

Final screens