• 15

    Days average time to process fingerprint authorizations
  • < 24

    Hours processing time for renewals

United’s story began nearly a century ago with the nation’s first commercial airmail flight. It’s since grown to become one of the largest airline carriers in the world, operating over 4,500 flights every day. Throughout the airline’s long history, one thing has always remained the same: Its people are at the heart of its success.

Over 87,000 people work for United. Thousands more are expected in the near future. As travel began to surge to pre-pandemic levels (and then some), getting new hires onboarded as quickly and painlessly as possible became a big priority. But manual paperwork remained a roadblock for HR—especially when it came to employee background checks. 

“We needed the process to be user friendly, legally immutable and trusted,” said Stefan Josephson, senior manager of IT application development. Docusign eSignature checked all of those boxes while creating a seamless employee experience.

Connecting digital tools to bring new hires on board faster 

“Getting people in the door for day one was always a challenge,” said Josephson. Federal regulations require a number of clearances for certain airport staff before they’re issued badges. That includes fingerprint-based criminal checks, which employees need to sign off on. Historically, authorization forms were completed by pen and paper and physically shuttled to the airport. If anything was missing or illegible, it was back to square one.

“Our challenge was to find a more efficient way to accurately get these forms signed, returned to the team that processes them, and securely stored for auditing purposes,” said Josephson. Docusign eSignature tackled all three while seamlessly connecting to the platform HR relies on: ServiceNow.

Using ServiceNow’s out-of-the-box Docusign connector, the United team was able to go live with a revamped solution in no time. Now, everyone benefits from a faster and more transparent process that’s centralized in United’s Help Hub employee portal.

For example:

  1. Employees can request a criminal history report check (CHRC) in Help Hub, where they’re given detailed information and instructions.
  2. Then, an electronic CHRC form is generated in Docusign—and pre-populated with employee data stored in ServiceNow, saving time and reducing errors.
  3. Once it’s electronically signed, the completed form moves back into ServiceNow for review and storage.
The transition from ServiceNow to Docusign is seamless. From the employee’s perspective, it looks and feels like everything is happening in our Help Hub portal.
Stefan Josephson
Senior Manager of IT Application Development
United Airlines

Uniting key metrics into a single view

Before digitizing the process with ServiceNow and eSignature, background checks could take weeks. Today, most new CHRCs are processed within 15 days. Renewals are processed the same day and require significantly less effort than before when they were treated like new submissions.

“Since we were dealing with stacks of paper, we didn't have a good way of tracking these things before,” said Josephson. “One of the benefits we gained from doing this with Docusign and ServiceNow is knowing where things are in the process at any given point.” 

Throughout it all, HR has real-time visibility into valuable operational data in ServiceNow—including averaging processing time and the number of queued-up and incomplete submissions by division or location.

The integration will also help United avoid an audit nightmare. Completed Docusign documents flow directly into the Employee Document Management module in ServiceNow, where security and retention policies are automatically applied. “Instead of needing to find sheets of paper that match up to each employee being audited, we can just do a quick search and print documents on demand,” said Josephson.

Onward with Docusign

Streamlining the CHRC process was just the beginning, Josephson said. United is also taking advantage of the integration for one of its offboarding processes: surveys and release forms for certain contractor employees. In this case, the process is kicked off by the HR team as a ServiceNow case, which automatically triggers a Docusign task for targeted contractors in the Help Hub portal.

“We were able to take what we created before and modify it for this new use case in about two weeks,” said Josephson. More opportunities are on the horizon, including digitizing offer letters, travel requests, exit forms and various other onboarding tasks. “My team is always looking for ways to modernize processes.”