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Product & Service

Creating an easy-to-use online tool for employers to build legally safe job contracts

Employment Agreement Builder for Business.govt.nz

Hiring is a key pain point for many small businesses. It’s an emotional investment as well as a business decision. This means paperwork and minimum entitlements can feel superfluous.

But this leads many small businesses into hot water, even if they treat their workers fairly. Others swing too far the other way (often after a bad hiring experience) and overload their employment agreements with superfluous details… which can later lead to disputes.

Empathy works closely with Business.govt.nz, the government website for small businesses. Together we create tools and content to help small businesses flourish and grow.

One of these tools is the Employment Agreement Builder (EAB), launched in April 2016 to rave reviews.

It’s a top-to-toe rebuild of an existing government online tool, which was widely regarded as imperfect. Written in legalese, with no supporting text, EAB’s previous incarnation often contributed to the problems it was trying to solve. With this tool about to be retired, Empathy recommended it be redesigned for Business.govt.nz, as it was spot-on for packaging and demystifying government requirements for small businesses.

Delving into the hiring process

The new tool had to reassure small businesses that creating written employment agreements — a legal requirement as well as a great foundation for employment relationships — wouldn’t be hard or time-consuming.

We talked to small businesses about how they went about hiring people. We learned what worked well and what didn’t. We tested ideas for what might help.

We then shaped up the high-level functional design of a new tool. We continued to offer design research and user experience direction through the creation of the business requirements, user interface design and content writing.

Making EAB useful for all

Two of the key problems with the tool’s former incarnation were poor user experience and the complex language used.

These shortcomings had to be tackled and resolved. So we worked closely with design agency Capiche and the client’s business analyst to define and refine the user experience. We tested each iteration with small businesses, and contributed customer insights throughout.

During the writing phase, we pushed and pulled our plain English copy into shape with input from labour inspectors, policymakers, and employment lawyers from unions and the public and private sectors. Again, we tested with small businesses and with employees.

The outcome? The tool launched in April 2016 to critical acclaim — critics being small businesses, HR advisors, government employment experts, and unions.

It’s a great product for small businesses, and for our government client. It shows we love creating solutions that meet the needs and achieve the goals of both sides.