Duties. Deliverables. Deadlines.
No matter if an employee is working as part of a tiny startup based in the CEO’s basement, or a multinational company with offices across the globe, there are important tasks that each and every employee needs to knock out the park.
But how can companies ensure their employees can complete tasks effectively? And that employees aren’t creating a backlog of work for themselves, which could decrease overall productivity by up to 68%?
Answer: An employee task list.
At least, that’s what countless top, thriving companies have told us after we asked them about their task list and checklist habits.
In this post – which is the next part in Process Street‘s series investigating how, why, and in what ways successful businesses use lists for their workflows – I’ll deep dive into the nitty-gritty of employee task lists. Plus, you’ll get the exclusive opportunity to discover the never-seen-before findings from our in-depth research. 🚀
Just read through the following sections:
- What is an employee task list?
- What jobs require an employee task list?
- How is an employee task list useful?
- Why marketing teams around the globe utilize employee task lists
- Employee task list best practices: Crushing duties & deadlines
- Use Process Street to create a superpowered employee task list!
However, before delving into our findings, I’ll first define exactly what an employee task list is.
What is an employee task list?
An employee task list is a documented series of duties that an employee must complete, usually given by the employee in question’s line manager. It can offer the employee details on what needs doing, why it needs doing, and how to go about completing those tasks.
But how an employee task list is presented varies.
For instance, a common (but problematic) method for providing employees with an employee task list is via a physical piece of paper that they can check off with a pen. It’s problematic because physical objects are prone to getting lost, damaged, or shoved in a drawer never to see the light of day again.
That’s why companies at the top of their game use business software to provide their staff with employee task lists. Utilizing a checklist app like Process Street is a surefire way of documenting, creating, and then providing accessible, cloud-based checklists. Easily.
To learn a little more about Process Street, check out the video below.
What jobs require an employee task list?
As part of our qualitative research, we asked a large pool of founders and CEOs – as well as managers and employees themselves – several questions regarding making checklists, employee checklists, and the simple checklist template.
If you’ve read the above posts, you’ll know the answers we received certainly piqued our curiosity (and yours, too). So, naturally, we wanted to take our investigation further and look at how organizations used the employee task list!
The first question we posed to our participant pool was: “What jobs do you think absolutely require an employee task list in your business?”
Reader, the results are now in.
Let’s waste no time and dive straight into them.
Providing us with the first answer is Kenny Trinh, the CEO of Netbooknews. Trinh advocates for task lists to be used by higher-ups, so that they don’t get too overwhelmed:
“For me, people that juggle a lot of responsibilities at one time or manage people with different responsibilities absolutely require a task list. Without it, these types of people will simply just be overwhelmed with all the amount of work they need to do. These are the project managers, the CEOs, and the executive secretaries, to name a few.
In my experience, those who use task lists have the ability to manage their time properly and therefore are able to meet their deadlines. Because they have control of their time, they are generally more productive and more efficient.”
On the flip side, David Reischer – an attorney and the CEO of LegalAdvice.com – suggests that an employee task list shouldn’t just be used by high-ranking employees, but by all employees:
“We give all our employees a checklist of those items and responsibilities that are most important when engaged in legal document review. All our employees are given the task list not only to make them more efficient but also to assure high quality when reviewing copious amounts of legal documents.
Without a task checklist it is very easy for an employee to miss critical documents that need to be collated properly.”
Similarly, the Director of Marketing at find.jobs – Ettore Fantin – says all employees at Find.jobs are provided with differing employee task lists, depending on their role and the team they’re in:
“We are an HR Tech company that runs a variety of different job boards.
We have a lot of different sides of the business to handle and it gets really difficult to stay organized without the use of a checklist. Whether we are planning new software development, or setting up a new client, checklists help us stay on track. Our product planning meetings and sales meetings typically revolve around our task lists. We try to be as detailed as possible with details such as assignments and deadlines.
If it weren’t for the use of checklists, we would not be nearly as productive as we are today.”
So far, there’s been several CEOs and directors who have contributed their thoughts on which roles should be using employee task lists – but what’s the opinion of time management and productivity experts? What roles gain the most use from an employee task list?
Alexis Haselberger – who’s a productivity, time management, and leadership coach themselves – says an employee task list is, indeed, incredibly useful – particularly for office-based employees:
“A huge part of my job is helping people create tasklists they will actually use; I call it a single trusted system.
In reference to your query, in my experience, the answer is most office jobs. I think the exceptions are jobs in which there is never follow up required, or it’s a straight queue system (think airline phone reservationists).
Task lists allow people to stop relying on memory to access what they need to do, so more of the brain is freed up to focus on the task at hand, and on problem solving. Also, if you’re trying to keep everything you need to do inside your head you will:
1) Let stuff fall through the cracks.
2) Have a very difficult time prioritizing.
It’s much easier to prioritize when you can see all the tasks in one place, and when you can sort and categorize them. Without a tasklist we often focus on the seemingly urgent instead of the important and we fall prey to shiny object syndrome.”
Magdalena Żurawska, the HR specialist at LiveCareer, also agrees that employee task lists are well-suited to those in office-based jobs, and gives us examples of roles that require an employee task list and how it’d help:
“I think that an employee task list is a must for businesses where employees are tasked with recurring tasks and procedures. That’s because such a checklist ensures that things don’t fall through the cracks, and maximum efficiency is achieved.
Jobs that require an employee task list include HR manager (to perform candidate screening), payroll specialist (to generate invoices), IT support (to deal effectively with tickets from customers), and many others that come standard with recurring tasks.”
It’s not just HR managers, payroll specialists, and IT support members who can use task lists to their advantage – software developers and engineers can, too. Blake Sutton at Electrical Knowledge agrees:
“We use checklists extensively as part of our code review process. There are dozens of items that need to be verified, such as correct code formatting, use of syntax, security best practices, scalability, and execution speed. All of these items have more granular subtasks, which also need to be verified.
Without detailed checklists, there would be no way we would be able to comprehensively delegate and prioritize work. Checklists ensure that we stay organized and productive, and are an indispensable part of our code reviews.”
To boot, you don’t have to be in a purely office-based role for task lists to make a beneficial impact, as Matthew Meier at MaxTour explains:
“Our travel and tour company relies on checklists to make sure our guests have an amazing time every time. Before each tour, our operations manager will prepare the tour vehicle, going down the pre-tour checklist to ensure the tour van has everything it needs to meet the needs of our guests.
Before we implemented our checklist procedure, things were getting forgotten or missing on our tours. Now we never have to worry about someone forgetting the Wi-Fi router or not putting in the Starbucks coffee for the guests.”
There you have it: An array of insightful responses on which jobs require an employee task list.
But what’s been uncovered from this section alone?
It’s fair to deduce that no matter what team an employee is a part of – or whether they’re office-based, on the road, or working as part of a virtual team – employees in all job roles should be using an employee task list.
If this is the point where you’re thinking “Surely the positives don’t end there?!”, you’re right.
The benefits certainly do not end there.
How is an employee task list useful?
In the modern world, organizations are accelerating at lightning speed.
This is so they can overtake competitors, cement themselves as industry leaders, and out-innovate other businesses (in fact, a study by Deloitte shows that for 96% of businesses, innovation is a top priority!)
However, for an organization to scale, accelerate, and innovate quicker than its competition – and in a healthy, sustainable way – its employees need the right tools to succeed.
One of those tools?
An employee task list.
If it sounds too simple of an answer to be effective, let me assure you; it’s not.
An employee task list lowers employees’ work-related anxiety, stress levels, feelings of being overwhelmed, and explicitly informs them of what duties should be tackled, meaning there’s no second-guessing if they’re working on the right tasks.
All in all, it’s a smart, simple solution to keep your employees far less stressed and more engaged, helping you to truly accelerate and scale your company. Now, that’s a multi-level win if I ever heard one.
But don’t take my word for it.
Take the word of industry leaders.
To start us off, here’s Rahul Vij – the CEO of WebSpero Solutions – discussing how employee task lists and checklists have helped WebSpero scale:
“I run an SEO agency with around 80 team members and I just can’t imagine my agency without the checklists.
In my business, we have checklists for HRs to standardize all the processes from hiring to induction to exit.
We have checklists for account managers who talk to the clients and they are responsible that the team gets all the accesses and details on time.
We have checklists for our SEO experts to make sure nothing is missed and all our clients get the same level of service. In SEO, there are a lot of tasks that are repetitive but important and every recurring task has a different life cycle, so checklists, especially smart checklists make our life super easy by showing us what to do and when to do, it helps us prioritize the tasks and guarantees that nothing is missed and we are spending time on right things. And this plays an important factor in helping an agency like us to scale. We have scaled from team of 10 to a team of 80 in the last couple of years and it would’ve been impossible without checklists.”
Similarly, employee task lists have helped entrepreneur Sean Pour to scale SellMax, a car-buying service that now covers the entire country:
“I started the company when I was 14 years old and I have since scaled it into a nationwide service.
The tow truck drivers within our business must use a task list. Prior to using a task list everything was very unorganized. The tow truck drivers would often forget to have the paperwork filled out. So, this is a must have for tow truck drivers now it’s saved us a lot of money and hassle.
Prior to using task lists within our company, a lot of time was simply wasted thinking of the next task to take care of. But now that it’s all planned out people complete one task and move right along to the next one.
It’s significantly increased productivity. It has helped us meet deadlines and prioritize tasks.”
On the subject of scaling, Winston Nguyen, the CEO of bitcoinseo.services, found himself pleasantly surprised after his newly-hired VAs used an employee task list:
“I used to outsource people for PR and outreach and it NEVER used to go well, even though I was paying a pretty good hourly rate ($50-$75/hr).
Nowadays, I hire VAs from third world countries for $10+/hr and they perform better. Why? Because I have a 5 page document that outlines the process step-by-step from prospect to how to craft a good email to managing relationships.
I include tonnes of examples of what’s good/what’s bad and include every minor detail I can think of.
The result? The VAs are performing way better than the $50-$75 guys and have similar results to myself when I outreach.”
The above CEOs and entrepreneurs have attributed their success in part to employee task lists. Martin Luenendonk – who’s the Co-Founder and CEO of Cleverism, which is an online job portal – reiterates that, from his own experience, an employee task list is something of an entrepreneurial must-have:
“The task lists can never be ignored or considered unnecessary due to its effectiveness. I have come across other entrepreneurs who tend to believe that their kind of job does not necessarily need an employee task list. They might be saying true, but my experience won’t allow me to stay at the top of a job without the daily task lists. In this particular case, the tasks list act as a lubricant, which helps in the smooth progression of tasks. It keeps me, and my employees motivated for the work undone. Thus, to me, every kind of job requires employee task lists.”
Organizations that are actively growing and scaling have substantial workloads. Mohammed Abuzar – a Digital Marketing Specialist at Siva Solutions Inc. – explains how an employee task list or checklist can masterfully help with the management of work:
“Since the workload in our company is enormous, a checklist helps to keep track of the various tasks and their allocation to different departments. Over here we have digital marketing specialists, front-end web developers, back-end web developers, a content writer and a manager who oversees the various departments. And every one of us uses a checklist to get the day-to-day activities organized.
There’s a ticketing system where our clients raise a ticket regarding the services that they require from us. Depending on the type of enquiry, the ticket will be flagged to the respective departments which in turn will be assigned to an individual. Employees in each department mark their chosen tasks and in the end, should mark the same again if they have completed them. This is a decentralized system of task assignment and this process helps in managing them quite efficiently without any cases of missed-out tasks. It also lets us choose the tasks that wish to work on, at the same time making it easy to keep tabs on who is accountable for what tasks.”
At ResumeLab, task lists have helped them to scale, too, as Jagoda Wieczorek states in this informative quote:
“There are two types of checklists:
Do-confirm, where you first execute the task and then mark it as done to keep track of progress, and Read-do, where you first read the assigned task and then execute it.
Use do-confirm checklists in fields like sales or outreach marketing.
For HR, read-do lists are fundamental to keep track of all ongoing processes. Sometimes you might have 20 job openings with 50 candidates for each position and it’s important to have a well planned recruitment process planned for every potential hire.
In our company, this method played a big role in scaling our company drastically last quarter.
Bottom line: Use do-confirm lists for jobs where you need to keep track of high output volume and prioritize read-do checklists for jobs involving complex processes that need to be treated carefully.”
However, an employee task list isn’t just useful for businesses that are scaling; they’re useful all the time! Here, Plamen Beshkov at 10Beasts lists some general benefits of using an employee task list:
“To monitor the work progress of my team, I use daily task lists. These really help when it comes to keeping up with deadlines, responsibilities, and work hours.
The act of marking something “complete” can be motivating too, which creates a positive feedback loop, resulting in consistent productivity.
There are fewer missed tasks and responsibilities when these lists are used. Sometimes people even have the chance to go home earlier because they finished their tasks sooner than expected.”
To round off, the Founder and CEO of Calendar – John Rampton – explains the specific reasons why he’s such an avid fan of using an employee task list – and why his employees are, too:
“As a leader, I do agree that having specified task lists is so helpful to each and every employee in my company. While I don’t require it, I do highly advise it in order to help my team improve their time management and productivity. It really does help my team by giving them set deadlines to work around so they can not only complete their own tasks, but also the tasks they are given. Naturally, they prioritize accordingly.
For example, when people run to the store, instead of trying to remember everything on the list, they typically make a list of things they know they need to get. This way, they don’t get distracted and buy more than what they need, and they also don’t forget anything. The same goes for the work task list — We use them to keep ourselves on track with what we need to do, and also to help us not forget anything.”
After reading those first-hand accounts, it’s safe to say that an employee task list brings a vast array of useful benefits to both the employee and the team they’re a part of.
Speaking of teams, let’s now take a deeper look into how marketing teams, in particular, are using employee task lists in the workplace.
Why marketing teams around the globe utilize employee task lists
Marketing teams have their work cut out for them.
Because a lot is going on in any one marketing team.
From graphic design to content writing, social media to video creation – not to mention advertising and growth hacking – an abundance of material is being created, edited, and published so the wider world can know just how great the company in question’s product or service is.
Needless to say, without some kind of guidance and structure, marketing employees wouldn’t be able to, well, do their job.
Take me as an illustrative example.
After we’ve planned each sprint, I’m allocated a certain amount of work to complete every month. To help me compartmentalize my work into daily, achievable chunks, I edited the daily to-do list template below so I can map out my working day accordingly. (With an employee task list, they can either be given straight to employees, or employees can create their own bite-sized versions!)
Now, marketing teams around the globe are using employee task lists and checklists not only to properly plan out their days, but for many, many more reasons – all of which you’re about to find out!
Just read this statement from David LaVine, the Founder of RocLogic Marketing, on why an employee task list is essential for any marketer worth their salt:
“If you’re in the world of digital marketing, you need several task lists. Some for creating content, others for analysis, some for logistical updates to the website, and others for learning about a specific topic (like some super-deep aspect of SEO, UX or CRO). There are so many facets to doing the job of digital marketer well, and many of these tasks stretch out over the course of weeks and months.
There are two main ways in which task lists can be helpful to the digital marketer: (1) reminders for being able to seamlessly pick up where you left off and (2) to serve as a forcing function to make you follow up on a task that might not be very exciting. For example, if you’re trying to understand the performance of a particular article over many months, it can be easy to want to move onto the next article and not circle back to gather the data and analyze something that’s 18 months old. Task lists force better behavior in that respect. Or if you need to dive in and understand a very specific topic (say email deliverability) at a deeper level, even if it’s not a priority, the task item can serve as a good reminder to circle back on this when you have a bit of breathing room.
Also, as a digital marketer, you often need to work with people outside of marketing (e.g. sales, engineering, customers, media outlets), and when that’s the case, task lists can keep you straight on the current state of a task (e.g. whether or not the ball is in your court or someone else’s).”
Next up is OptinMonster‘s Allison Hott, who explains how the content writers on a marketing team need a task list (and I’d certainly agree with her!):
“One job that should require employee task lists is a content writer.
Creating content like blog posts is one of the most effective ways to increase traffic to your site and generate new leads. But, aside from just writing the article, there are a number of steps writers should be taking to ensure the success of their content.
For instance, a task list for a writer could include steps like keyword research, creating a clickable title, drafting the post, reading the post out loud, interlinking related blog posts, uploading a properly formatted featured image, and more.”
Now you have Growth Marketing‘s Founder Stacy Caprio who, like Allison Hott, knows that an employee task list can do wonders for writers and their writing process:
“Writing a structured SEO blog post for a client requires a task list to make sure no steps are missed. This means making sure the structure and heading tags are correct, that all images have alt tags, that a specific keyword is being targeted, that a word length is met, and making sure all client objectives are met.
Keeping a checklist while making the article also helps when looking back to determine results and what worked and what did not.”
Likewise, Bryan Truong – the Founder of GameCows – says that task lists are invaluable for him and his team:
“Managing work for GameCows has been relatively easy and running smoothly because of the task list that we’ve adapted for our website. I believe all tasks, whether it be content writing or uploading articles, should utilize the use of task lists. For my business, I see that making use of a task list is an absolute requirement for content writing. It enables us to stay on track with deadlines and to whom write ups are assigned to. Personally, it helps me get an overview of everything that’s been accomplished and the rest of the work that we have yet to do.
Ultimately, the lesson we learned is that task lists have helped immensely in our day to day work and we encourage other businesses to utilize it as well. It makes handling a business become easier, less time-consuming, and more efficient.”
Seeing as SEO is a large part of modern-day marketing, it has to be done correctly to reach the coveted spot of being #1 on Google’s front page. Ronald D’souza – Angel Jackets’ Digital Marketing Manager – explains how an employee task list can be beneficial for SEO marketing efforts:
“The job of an SEO executive absolutely requires a task list, between seeding relevant content in the right place to various other factors such as on-page and off-page optimization, it’s tough to organize work when it comes to basic SEO essentials.
For optimal results, you need to prioritize certain tasks over others. If you mess up the order, you will need excess time and resources to meet your goal. I do agree that having a task list helps with prioritizing tasks and meeting deadlines.”
Debashri Dutta, a content marketer at Blog Tyrant, suggests that an employee task list is not only useful for creating content, but also pushing it live once it’s been created:
“Content marketing needs task lists.
For successful content marketing, it’s necessary to create, edit and publish a lot of content regularly. You also need to post it on different platforms and even different websites.
A task list becomes essential if you want to make sure that topics aren’t repeated, or that content is being created on time. A task list could also help track whether a post has been submitted/published yet.
If you’re submitting a guest post, then a task list can remind you to check whether the post is live and if there are any mistakes to catch.”
Considering all the benefits an employee task list and checklist is having for those in marketing, imagine the plethora of other benefits those in sales, engineering, customer success, and HR have to gain!
If you’re ready to reap the rewards of an employee task list for you and your team, I’ve got you covered.
Employee task list best practices: Crushing duties & deadlines
Where employee task lists are concerned, there’s a right way to go about introducing, creating, and utilizing task lists and checklists in your organization.
But there’s also a wrong way, too.
To stave you away from that incorrect path, our talented participant pool has some insider tips and tricks for you.
Take them on board.
Without doing so, you could potentially disengage and demotivate your colleagues (which is the last thing you want to do!)
“While I’d advise anybody to make even a rough task list for themselves at their job, I’d argue that the line where it becomes necessary for employers to provide employees with task lists are ones where their work relies on strict deadlines, and/or the processes are standardized.
A standardized process implies that the ways in which tasks are done will not change and aren’t subjective, so to make sure tasks are being completed correctly, provide an outline of sorts/process documentation on how to make sure tasks are not only being completed, but also being completed in a timely manner.
Strict deadlines imply there isn’t a lot of room for error, or time to be wasted completed certain tasks, so in order to avoid losing time unnecessarily, task lists will hold the employee to a higher standard when it comes to completing them in a timely manner, and leave little room for error.”
“A task that I think is incredibly well suited for a checklist is the accounting monthly close. It consists of a long list of tasks, all of which need to be done, often in a specific order. There are rarely any curveballs that would require you to not respect the list, and you can’t make the mistake of forgetting any steps. Plus it’s a list that will be reused identically month after month. You only need to make it once, and if you don’t put too much effort into it the first time you can iterate and improve on the list each time you use it.
It’s incredibly useful to the manager as well as the people executing on the list, and barely has any of the usual downsides.”
Meanwhile, WebTek‘s Digital Marketing Manager Antonella Weidman advocates for task lists that have clear, specific action times, so employees can get tasks done efficiently:
“A good, shared checklist improves productivity and efficiency. By completing goals and checking off your tasks in the correct order, you create a better workflow for yourself and team members who may work on the same project.
In our company, we partner with many clients, offering multifaceted marketing solutions. In order to deliver the best results for each client, it is important to have a clear plan with specific action items – a checklist is necessary to ensure ALL essential components of the campaign are executed successfully.”
Bringing us to our conclusion is CrunchTime Analytics‘ Founder Cody Smith. Smith explains how wonderfully broad an employee task list can be, how it can be used, and he even lists the benefits that come with using task lists and checklists:
“Task lists can be broad, encompassing a day, week, or month. Or, they can be hyper focused on a particular portion of a role, project or activity.
From a human resources perspective, task lists are wonderful tools with many benefits to an organization. These benefits include:
1) Ensuring clarity of expectations.
2) Facilitating the development and delivery of training programs.
3) Providing a useful tool for performance evaluations.
4) Aiding in the development of job descriptions.
5) Provide useful job specific information for recruiters to select and screen candidates.
6) Providing data for productivity analysis and the development of actionable insights.
There are many jobs that should be considered for the use of task lists. These include administrative, service, professional jobs, and even creative positions like graphic designers.”
That final quote wraps up our research and findings on the employee task list.
I’d like to extend a special shoutout to the team at Outfunnel, who also gave us some incredible insights into how they use task lists themselves!
Now, with all the helpful statements above, you’re nearly set to implement and create some stellar employee task lists and checklists for your team and organization.
But I’m not finished here quite yet.
I’ve got another piece of advice for you: Use Process Street!
Use Process Street to create a superpowered employee task list!
No matter if you’re following a daily employee task list or something like an employee onboarding checklist, you’ll always be properly and sufficiently guided through the process, so you can get high-quality work completed. Again and again.
If you haven’t already checked out our informative intro video, do so now to learn more about Process Street – state-of-the-art BPM software!
After everything you’ve read about employee task lists, I bet you’re raring to make your own employee task list – or task lists for the colleagues you manage. Whether these are daily, weekly, or monthly task lists, Process Street’s nifty workflow features will turn run-of-the-mill task lists and checklists into ones that are out of this world.
This is due to the following features:
- Stop tasks. ✋
- Conditional logic. 🧠
- Task permissions. 👀
- Task assignments. 👤
- Role assignments. 👥
- Approvals. ✅
- Embed widget. 🌐
- Webhooks. 🎣
Stop tasks ensure vital tasks are never accidentally – or purposely – skipped over.
With conditional logic, checklists dynamically change to suit the user’s needs – perfect for an employee task list that may differ day-by-day or week-by-week!
Don’t want somebody to see critical or private information? Task permissions allow you to keep information and data out of view.
If you’re collaborating with others, assign them to tasks on your task list with task assignments!
For times when you need to work with different roles on your team, use role assignments to dynamically assign tasks straight to them.
Need an employee task list approved at the end of each day, week, or month? The process is made incredibly easy with approvals.
With the embed widget feature, you can include other apps and content – like Google Sheets, an interactive map, or an Airtable view – in your checklists.
Send automated messages and other information from one app to another (Process Street to Slack, for instance) with the genius webhooks feature.
For an in-depth explanation of how some of these features work, watch the webinar below, hosted by Process Street’s customer success team.
So, what’re you waiting for?
It’s time to create amazing employee task lists and checklists with the information in this post and a subscription to Process Street!
Do you or other members of your team use an employee task list? Are there any tips you’d like to share? If so, write them down in the comment section below! 💡