At hiCOlab, I had to find innovative ways to integrate health and well-being into the workplace and daily experiences of a hospital’s employees. Using tools and methods of human-centered design, my team was able to innovate a tool that could enable employees to experience well-being in an effective and flexible manner, reflective of their diverse needs.


​Design Researcher​​

May - August, 2018

How might we create a system - program, services, physical locations- that integrates employee health and wellbeing into the workplace and daily experiences? 

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The Problem

The efficiency of the University of Vermont Medical Center (UVMC) hinged upon the engagement of a workforce of over 8500 employees across 52 different locations. Recent employee strikes had cost the facility millions of dollars, which motivated them to improve employee well-being. Their innovation department, hiCOlab, was tasked with creating a comprehensive system for the same. Over 11 weeks, we used participatory design with 22 employees from various departments to understand their needs of well-being. 

"... not feeling appreciated or respected or valued. ”

"... not feeling appreciated or respected or valued. Like that's the, stuff that bears on you, that's the stuff that burns you out.”

Insight 1

Employees wanted well-being woven into their workday

"....right now in medicine, people are burdened. They’re overworked. There's not enough time. And there's all these pressures. And they want you to do all this stuff and make less money at the same time. That all breeds this negativity that can really affect how your day is at work…"

The Pilot

We needed to address these insights for employees to achieve optimal well-being. After conferring with stakeholders in our design sprint, we narrowed our focus to one problem that encompassed our insights. On the basis of feasibility, desirability, and viability, we chose the following problem statement: How might we infuse habitual acts of appreciation and gratitude throughout the employees’ daily experiences?

There should be an outlet for appreciation of one another to be publicly shared

Tasks need to be easy 

and doable in less 

than 5 minutes

Incentives are paramount to boosting participation rates

The Solution

We designed a large public bingo board containing team tasks for employees to appreciate themselves and others. Over two prototype phases, we tested one board at three different sites, followed by testing three variations at seven sites. Between these phases, we tested aspects of incentivization, team/individual incentives, personal/public displays, footprint size, leadership engagement strategies, etc.  

Location of the board acts as a reminder.

The Outcomes
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    81% employees engaged with the appreciation station. 679 instances of people sharing gratitude in 3 days.

  • 1/24

    One department encouraged the board’s usage through individual incentives besides the existing group incentive.

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    Employees requested for continuation of prototype phases for them to keep reading others’ “shoutouts”.

“Even though it was my second day the board came in on, it made me feel as though the company cares about its employees. Even though it has become as large as it has.”
“Yes, it felt good to know that management cares and values appreciation”
“Encouragement to take time to myself and walk away from my workstation.” (What I liked)


34 Scholarly Articles

We did secondary research and pulled out major concepts that surfaced and mapped them in order to better understand relationships.