Onboarding employees with Kanban

Onboarding employees with Kanban

Companies help new employees adapt to their roles and corporate culture through onboarding (adaptation).


The process includes completing paperwork, holding orientation meetings, organizing training sessions, and delegating initial responsibilities.

This process gives employees the ability to work effectively and comfortably in a new work environment if done properly.

Kanban is well suited to the onboarding process because of its effectiveness in task management. Companies can streamline their workflow, identify potential bottlenecks, and accelerate the onboarding of new hires by using Kanban boards to represent onboarding milestones visually.

Therefore, Kanban is a powerful tool for improving onboarding efficiency, which leads to better integration of new employees into the company.


Organizations often face problems when onboarding new employees, which affects both the effectiveness of the procedure and the experience of the new employee.


Here are some typical difficulties:

  • Time-consuming: Paperwork, learning, and other onboarding tasks take time, impacting productivity.

  • Inconsistent processes: The results of new hires can vary without a standard onboarding process, resulting in gaps in knowledge or skills.

  • Lack of Engagement: Without a positive onboarding experience, new employees may feel lonely or overwhelmed, which affects their motivation and retention.

  • Task overload can slow down an employee's onboarding.

  • Feedback loops. New hires can be confused by inconsistent performance feedback.

Kanban for onboarding

Kanban can be used for onboarding because it is flexible. Define any new hire tasks to customize them.


These may include paperwork, training modules, getting to know the team, initial assignments, etc.

Kanban board setup

  • Set up a kanban board. Onboarding may not fit into traditional workflow steps such as To Do, In Progress, and Done. Instead, consider onboarding stages such as Orientation, Training, Internship, and Project Assignment. So the progress of a new employee becomes more visible.

  • Set WIP limits for each stage. This limits the newbie's workload and helps them focus.

  • Place the task cards in the appropriate columns. When a new employee is onboarding, they move tasks across the board.

Defining onboarding workflow steps

Effective Kanban onboarding requires a thoughtful process.


Typical workflow:

  • Orientation. Introduce the new hire to the company's culture, values, and expectations.

  • Documentation. For new hires, complete contracts, tax forms, policy confirmations, etc.

  • Training: During this phase, the new employee is given formal training, learning online modules, or other resources.

  • Mentorship, internship. A new employee receives individual guidance and support from a mentor.

  • Integration includes assigning initial tasks, organizing new employees into teams, and helping them work.

  • Feedback and Evaluation: Regular check-ins to discuss issues, progress, and performance help new hires adapt.

Kanban cards move from left to right as they are executed.

Create and manage task cards

  • Kanban relies on task cards. These cards represent new hiring challenges.

  • Each task card should include a description, due date, and resources or contacts.

Working with task cards

Kanban adaptation requires task card management. “Orientation” is the first stage of onboarding. New employees advance cards as they complete tasks.

The role of WIP limits in adaptation

Constraints are critical to onboarding. Limiting active tasks simplifies your workflow and helps you stay focused.

WIP limits prevent new employees from being overwhelmed by the flow of tasks. Reduce cognitive load by helping you focus on a single task.

WIP limits also reveal bottlenecks. An accumulation of tasks in a stage indicates a problem.

Visualization and monitoring of the adaptation process

Kanban helps track the onboarding process. The board shows new hires and managers' tasks, milestones, and progress.


Onboarding with Kanban visualizes the current tasks of new hires as they move cards around. It helps to identify completed, ongoing, and pending tasks and potential bottlenecks.

Kanban onboarding

A technology company is hiring a software engineer. Kanban for customization:

  • "Company Orientation" starts the "Tasks" column. Introduce the new employee to the company's culture, structure, and policies.

  • Documentation: Tax forms, benefits, signing insurance, etc.

  • Training: Security, software development lifecycle, and enterprise tool and software training are listed in the Training column.

  • Mentorship: a column with internship tasks.

  • Integration: "Development environment setup" and "First coding task" are in the "Integration" column.

  • Feedback and Evaluation: Recurring cards such as "Weekly meeting with the manager" indicate reviews.

New software engineers move task cards as they go through onboarding.

Overcoming Potential Obstacles

Kanban for onboarding may have some drawbacks. Here's how to contact them:

  • Resistance to Change: Team members may hesitate to accept a new system. Training, benefits, and open discussion foster engagement.

  • Misinterpretation of WIP Limits: Some may consider limiting the number of active tasks as a performance limit. Focus on how these limits improve quality and focus, not the outcome.

  • Overcomplicating: Avoid overly detailed Kanban boards that can confuse new hires. Keep the board simple and focused on key onboarding tasks.

  • Lack of Engagement: Motivate new hires with engaging onboarding. Use interactive training or team building.

  • Inconsistent Feedback: Regular feedback is vital. Provide feedback and support through frequent progress reviews or meetings.


Kanban principles improve onboarding transparency, task management, and engagement. New hires and managers can track onboarding progress by moving cards through the workflow steps on the board.


WIP limits prevent overload and promote focus. This visually structured approach makes onboarding more efficient and makes it easier to integrate new employees.