The employee onboarding process is a crucial time for making a great first impression and getting new hires up to speed quickly and effectively. According to Gallup, only 12% of employees strongly agree that their company did a good job with onboarding. Clearly, there’s room for improvement.
In this post, we’ll discuss how to optimize your onboarding workflow in Jira to create a streamlined, organized process that sets your new employees up for success.
Why Jira for Onboarding Workflows?
Jira is an incredibly flexible and powerful project management tool that can support just about any process you throw at it, including onboarding. Here are some of the key reasons Jira is a great choice for managing your onboarding workflow:
- Customizable workflows – Jira allows you to model your unique onboarding process as a workflow with customizable stages, transitions, and statuses. This way you can match the tool to your existing process rather than having to radically change your process to fit the tool.
- Task management – Break down onboarding checklists into granular tasks that can be assigned, tracked, and marked complete as the new hire progresses through onboarding. This brings visibility into what has and hasn’t been done.
- Approvals and hand-offs – Jira allows you to build an approval process into your workflow. For example, require manager sign-off before moving a new hire from “orientation” to “shadowing.”
- Automatic reminders and notifications – Jira can automatically notify responsible parties when certain tasks are ready or approaching due dates. This helps ensure nothing falls through the cracks.
- Centralized onboarding info – Store onboarding documents and resources as attachments on relevant Jira issues for easy one-stop access to everything a new hire needs.
- Reporting and metrics – Jira provides reports and visibility into onboarding metrics like cycle times and throughput to uncover bottlenecks.
- Works at any scale – Jira can flex to support onboarding processes whether you onboard 5 or 500 employees per year. It scales smoothly without getting unwieldy.
Now let’s walk through the key steps to consider when designing your onboarding workflow in Jira.
Step 1: Map Out Your Current Onboarding Process
First, document the current state of your onboarding process outside of Jira. Outline the key stages and milestones from start to finish. If your current process is informal, this is the time to get clear on what it should look like in an ideal state.
Identify the key people, teams, and approvers involved at each step. Also call out any systems, tools, or records used or updated during onboarding. This will serve as an overview of all the moving parts you need to orchestrate in Jira.
Step 2: Model Your Onboarding Workflow
With the current process mapped out, it’s time to model it as a Jira workflow.
Workflows allow you to represent your onboarding process as a series of customizable stages and transitions a new hire will move through from start to finish.
Some common onboarding workflow stages include:
- Submitted (candidate submitted for hiring)
- Background Check
- Offer Approved
- Offer Accepted
- First Day
- Equipment/Tools Setup
- Role Training
- Ramping Up
- Graduated (fully onboarded)
You can label the stages whatever makes sense for your organization. The key is to break down onboarding into logical chunks.
Define the transitions that move new hires from one stage to the next, like “Start Background Check” or “Complete Orientation.”
Set transition requirements if certain criteria needs to be met before moving to the next stage, like manager approval.
Jira allows tremendous flexibility to model workflows aligned with your existing process.
Step 3: Create Onboarding Issue Types
With the workflow established, the next step is to set up issue types that will represent discrete work items within each onboarding stage.
Common onboarding issue types include:
- New Hire Record – The parent issue that tracks an employee through the entire onboarding workflow. All other subtasks link to this parent issue.
- Onboarding Task – Generic tasks like “Schedule Orientation” or “Order Equipment.”
- Onboarding Checklist – For checklist tasks like “Complete Benefit Enrollment Forms”
- Onboarding Approval – To track approvals required at certain transition points.
- Onboarding Form – To store onboarding forms and paperwork as issue attachments.
You can create different issue types for different kinds of onboarding work items and link them together under the parent New Hire Record issue.
Step 4: Create and Prioritize Onboarding Issues
With your workflow and issue types set up, it’s time to start populating onboarding tasks and items as Jira issues.
Create a New Hire Record issue for each new employee. Then build out all of the subtasks and child issues that need to be completed as part of their onboarding.
By breaking onboarding down into granular issues, you gain visibility into the work to be done and can track progress in real-time.
Prioritize issues based on the order they need to be completed within the workflow stages. Set due dates when certain tasks must be completed by.
Use dependencies and blocking to sequence interrelated tasks that have hand-offs between teams or approvers.
Step 5: Assign Owners and Track Progress
With all onboarding issues created, assign them to owners based on who is responsible. This makes it clear who needs to do what.
As issues are worked, update them to reflect progress. Mark checklist items complete, record form submissions, log approvals, etc.
The parent New Hire Record issue becomes a living record of everything that happened during that employee’s onboarding.
Step 6: Establish Notifications and Reminders
With issues flowing through the workflow, take advantage of Jira’s ability to automatically notify responsible parties when key things occur.
Set up reminder emails for upcoming or past due tasks. Notify managers when their approval is required to progress a new hire.
Configure queued notifications so you aren’t spamming people with every trivial issue update.
Notifications help ensure nothing gets dropped while keeping everyone informed.
Step 7: Report on Your Onboarding Process
A final benefit of Jira is gaining data and visibility into your onboarding process performance. Jira provides reports to help you identify bottlenecks and opportunities to improve. Track metrics like:
- Average days in each onboarding stage
- Average overall time to complete onboarding
- Percentage of issues completed on time vs late
- Number of new hires onboarded per month
The Right Way to Structure Your Onboarding Workflow in Jira
Let’s get into the nitty gritty of structuring your onboarding workflow and issues in Jira for maximum efficiency. Follow these best practices and you’ll be onboarding new hires like clockwork in no time.
Tip 1: Use a Parent Issue
Create a master “New Hire Onboarding” issue for each employee that will move through the entire onboarding workflow from start to finish.
All other onboarding tasks, subtasks, forms, and checklist items will be child issues linked to this parent issue.
This provides a central location to see everything related to a specific new hire’s onboarding in one place.
Tip 2: Break Down Stages Into Issues
Don’t try to cram your entire onboarding checklist into one issue. Break it down into granular issues based on logical chunks and stages.
For example, create separate issues for:
- Completing new hire forms
- Scheduling orientation
- Setting up hardware
- Configuring software systems
- Completing training for System X
Child issues to the parent issue as needed. Grouping related tasks under subtasks or checklists helps maintain organization.
Tip 3: Assign Owners to Each Issue
Ensure every onboarding task has an assigned owner in Jira responsible for completing or coordinating it. Avoid “catch-all” issues assigned to HR or Office Admin.
This promotes accountability and clarity on who needs to do what for each new hire. Use mentions to notify owners of assigned tasks.
Tip 4: Map Workflow Stages to Issues
As you model your workflow stages in Jira, think through what distinct onboarding activities occur in each stage and create issues to represent that work.
Checklists and forms for pre-boarding tasks, orientation agenda as a separate issue, equipment setup tasks under an “equipment setup” issue, etc.
This allows you to see at a glance what needs to happen in each stage of onboarding.
Tip 5: Model Approval Processes
Take advantage of Jira’s native approval feature for any sign-offs or approvals needed during onboarding, like manager approval to progress new hire from orientation to ramping up.
Creating approval issues linked to the parent issue adds structure around securing approvals before transitioning between stages.
Tip 6: Set Due Dates on Issues
Where possible, set due dates on issues to reflect when certain onboarding tasks must be completed by based on your process cadence.
This allows Jira to automatically highlight upcoming and past due tasks that may require attention and follow up. Don’t let anything slip through the cracks.
Tip 7: Use Dependencies to Sequence
Issues If completion of certain onboarding tasks directly depends on other tasks being done first, model this using issue dependencies and blocking.
This guarantees hand-offs happen smoothly and efficient parallelization of work.
For example, laptop setup can’t start until IT ticket is created. Block laptop setup issue with IT ticket issue.
Tip 8: Attach Onboarding Resources to Issues
Upload any forms, templates, equipment specs, required training materials, or other documentation to relevant onboarding issues as attachments.
This makes it easy for issue owners to quickly access resources needed to complete that piece of onboarding work.
Tip 9: Automate Reminders and Notifications
Take full advantage of Jira’s ability to automatically remind and notify people when key events occur related to onboarding issues.
Don’t let assigned tasks or pending approvals slip through cracks. Configure notifications so they are helpful but not annoying.
Tip 10: Report on Onboarding Metrics
Leverage Jira’s built-in reports and dashboards to gain visibility into your onboarding workflow performance.
Track cycle times, throughput, adherence to service level agreements, and other metrics to optimize your process over time.
Top Onboarding Mistakes to Avoid in Jira
It’s easy for onboarding workflows in Jira to become disorganized and inconsistent if best practices aren’t followed. Here are some of the most common mistakes to avoid.
Mistake #1: Not Making Onboarding Issues Granular Enough
Don’t lump multiple onboarding tasks together in one issue. Break onboarding down into granular issues based on logical chunks of work. This increases clarity on what exactly needs to be done.
New Hire Onboarding
- Create user accounts
- Schedule orientation
- Order laptop
- Set up email
- Send welcome package
New Hire Onboarding
- Create User Accounts (subtask)
- Schedule Orientation (subtask)
- Order Laptop (issue)
- Set up Email (issue)
- Send Welcome Package (issue)
Mistake #2: Not Assigning Issue Owners
Make sure every onboarding issue has an explicitly assigned owner in Jira responsible for completing or coordinating tasks related to that issue. Avoid “catch-all” assignments like “HR.”
This prevents unclear responsibilities and ensures accountability around getting each onboarding task done.
Mistake #3: Not Linking Child Issues
Make sure any child tasks, checklists, subtasks, or other related issues are linked to the parent “New Hire Onboarding” issue for each employee.
Having to jump between multiple boards and filters to piece together onboarding progress for a new hire results in unnecessary friction.
Mistake #4: Skipping Workflows
Don’t rely solely on standalone issues. Model your onboarding process as a real workflow in Jira with statuses mapped to process steps.
This provides structure around what activities need to transpire at each stage of onboarding and guides new hires smoothly through onboarding from start to finish.
Mistake #5: Not Using Dashboard Reports
Leverage onboarding dashboards to monitor metrics like new hires onboarded per month, average days in each stage, and tasks completed late vs on time.
This provides data-driven insights to continuously tune and optimize your onboarding workflows in Jira.
Mistake #6: Disorganized Project Layout
Structure your Jira project thoughtfully with appropriate screens and issue hierarchy. Group related onboarding issues together under logical sections. Don’t just toss every issue onto a disorganized backlog.
This allows new hire onboarding records to be easily scanned and understood at a glance.
Mistake #7: Manual Updating of Issues
Take full advantage of transitions, status changes, and automation rules to progress onboarding issues through your workflow.
Don’t rely on team members manually updating issue status. Automate state changes wherever possible.
This reduces human error and ensures issues accurately reflect the latest state of onboarding tasks.
Mistake #8: Generic Onboarding Workflow
Don’t use a generic cookie cutter workflow copied from a template. Tailor workflows to align with your organization’s specific onboarding process.
Every company’s needs are different. Match your Jira workflow to your process for maximum maintainability.
Mistake #9: No Notifications
Configure notifications, reminders, and alerts on important onboarding issues and workflow events. Get notified if an approval is pending, task is coming due, or new hire record gets created.
This proactively surfaces potential bottlenecks or blocks before they impact onboarding speed.
Mistake #10: Ignoring Feedback
Don’t just set your workflows up once and forget them. Regularly solicit feedback from new hires and onboarding owners to identify areas for improvement.
Evolve your workflows over time to streamline your onboarding process and enhance the new employee experience.
Onboarding Checklists and Template Content in Jira
Onboarding checklists are a great way to break down key activities into atomic tasks that can be tracked and marked complete in Jira. Here are some examples of checklist and template content to help model your own onboarding checklists.
- Collect new hire paperwork
- Verify I9
- Complete background check
- Add new employee to payroll system
Day 1 Checklist
- Tour office/facilities
- Set up workstation
- Provide branded swag and welcome kit
- Review org chart and key contacts
- Schedule HR orientation
- Order laptop based on standard specs
- Order desk phone
- Request network credentials
- Schedule PC setup with IT
- Create accounts in core systems
- Grant access to required apps and folders
- Provide link to password manager
- Share software training resources
- Review employee handbook
- Discuss company culture and values
- Cover expense reimbursement process
- Review acceptable use and security policies
- Provide office keys, badges, etc.
- Send welcome email introducing the team
- Schedule 1:1s for first two weeks
- Assign onboarding buddy
- Review first week schedule and set expectations
- Check in daily on progress and blockers
These are just examples – tailor checklists to match your own onboarding process activities and information new hires need to effectively get up to speed. Break long checklists down into smaller reusable checklists around related topics.
Automating Onboarding with Jira Service Desk
Jira Service Desk can streamline onboarding by empowering new hires to self-serve common requests instead of IT manually fulfilling each one. Here are some examples:
New Laptop Request
Submit a ticket with desired specs, manager approval, and location. IT is notified to fulfill.
Account Access Request
New hire requests access to required systems and applications. Automatic approvals grant access.
New hires order peripherals like monitors, phones, and desks. Fulfilled by facilities team. Office
Kick off automated workflow to create and deliver office security badges.
Account Creation Request
Single click form to request creation of accounts in all required systems.
Password Reset Request
Allows self-service password resets instead of tickets to IT.
The service catalog provides a one stop shop for new hires to easily order equipment, request access, and set up accounts during onboarding. Work is automatically routed to the right teams and systems. This frees IT from constantly fulfilling repetitive onboarding requests manually.
Monitoring Onboarding Metrics in Jira
It’s important to monitor key metrics around your onboarding process health to identity potential issues or opportunities to streamline onboarding. Here are some examples of reports to consider in Jira:
- Number of new hires onboarded per month
- Average number of days to graduate new hire from onboarding
- Average cycle time per onboarding stage
- Percentage of onboarding issues completed on time vs past due
- Number of onboarding issues opened per new hire
Bringing It All Together
Onboarding is a multifaceted process requiring the coordination of tasks, approvals, equipment provisioning, system access, paperwork, and more.
Modeling your unique onboarding workflow in Jira brings all the moving parts together into a streamlined, transparent process that evolves over time as you continue to optimize and improve.
With onboarding workflow best practices like:
- Decomposing into granular issues
- Assigning issue owners
- Structured workflow stages
- Configuring reminders and notifications
- Reporting on metrics
You gain the consistency, visibility, and framework needed to rapidly ramp up new hires and set them up for success.
If bringing order to your chaotic onboarding process seems daunting, the experts at Atlas Bench are here to help. We specialize in simplifying complex workflows in Jira and designing processes tailored to your specific environment and constraints.
Book a free workflow consultation today to get unbiased advice on how to untangle your onboarding process. We’ll provide actionable suggestions to rationalize your workflows and build a foundation for scale.