As a part of a larger initiative to understand the implementation challenges of Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML), and highlight ways to improve delivery, New America staffed a multi-disciplinary team to conduct a four-week discovery sprint around New Jersey’s PFML service.
Our goal was to hear directly from the state team about the challenges they face in providing the benefit and conduct a comprehensive review of the service design to uncover opportunities to improve the service. Due to the intensive nature, we focused our sprint around end-users who applied due to giving birth.
As the user experience researcher and designer on the team, I focused primarily on understanding the service delivery map and the intended user journey. Then, I conducted 25 interviews with individuals who had applied for paid leave to validate how the intended journey matched up to the lived experiences. Along with teammates analyzing program data, we were able to pinpoint many barriers and potential opportunities that could be turned into actionable steps for the state. We provided the state team a full report including actionable recommendations for their program overhaul.
One barrier I discovered in my research was how complicated the information and terminology was for prospective applicants. Many of the terminology issues were also exacerbated by differences in language between the two departments who both play substantial roles in the delivery of paid leave. In order to ensure long-term success, I helped align key staff members from the two departments to collaborate on mocking up and testing program content. Even though our time together was short, I was delighted to hear that a year later the departments were still collaborating and had jointly produced an updated outreach flyer with vetted language that was also being incorporated into the program's digital assets.