How To Successfully Re-Board Employees In The Post-Pandemic Environment (And Beyond)?
Traditionally, reboarding was mostly about introducing employees to the workplace after returning from breaks like parental leaves, sabbaticals, or in the case of promotions.
However, the pandemic has added a new meaning to it:
As the restrictions get lifted, organizations either continue to work remotely or request employees to return to the office. Any way, employees need continuous support through the transition process.
And that is done with an effective reboarding plan.
This article will extensively cover the reboarding process–from establishing a reboarding system to its implementation.
🔎 What is reboarding (or re-onboarding)?
Reboarding is the process of familiarizing existing employees with your organization, its policies, and their roles after being away for a while - or after massive change. Re-onboarded employees are more aware of your organization's structure, culture, and administrative processes.
The reboarding process is determined based on the industry and organization at hand. However, reboarding comprises three consistent elements:
- Integrating employees back into the workplace
- Safety training
- Communicating relevant changes
Think of reboarding as targeted employee onboarding. While reboarding is mainly for existing employees, onboarding is the first step to introducing new employees to your organization. It is implemented to ensure employees are guided through your company's policy, compliance, workplace culture and establish connections between new and existing employees.
Targets of successful reboarding
- Motivate, excite - and improve productivity
- Reinforce a sense of community
- Realign employees with organization vision, mission, values, and culture
- Make employees feel comfortable and safe
❓ Why is reboarding essential now?
The pandemic has altered the employment landscape and redefined how employees work and interact with their job and colleagues. The changes orchestrated by the health crisis required organizations to redesign a new employee experience based on the 'new normal.'
As HR manager, it's you job to implement business continuity plans, modify internal processes and procedures, and ensure a smooth transition to remote/hybrid working. This includes reboarding your employees in the best way possible. The top reasons to re-onboard your employees are:
Updating your employees immediately after their return enables them to settle quickly and return to work. In addition, offering clarity about their position and expectations helps them focus and deliver on the tasks ahead of them.
Extends emotional support
Reboarding encourages employees to feel engaged, welcomed, and reconnected to your organization. As we shift back to work from the office, employees might feel uncomfortable reconnecting with their colleagues after a long period. A reboarding process offers much-needed emotional support to your new and existing employees.
Returning employees will have several questions or concerns like
- "what happens to my contract?".
- "Are there any new changes to my role?"
A structured reboarding plan clarifies small details and eliminates any stress from employees.
An opportunity to re-innovate
Through reboarding, your employees can refocus on work that matters. In return, this attribute fosters positivity and productivity as employees become accustomed to the latest version of normal.
Establishes new policies
As many companies are reimagining their work models, a company-wide reboarding process is their chance to communicate and establish their new hybrid work policies or flexible work models.
🛫 Re-onboarding new hires that joined during the pandemic
Many people have started a new job during the pandemic - and have never met their teammates in person. In fact, the shift to remote was quite turbulent for many companies - and onboarding procedures suffered.
With your company returning to more stable ways of working, it's your chance to give your colleagues that experience back.
This is powerful for two reasons:
First, it integrates them into your system and builds community. And second, reboarding new hires helps to align your organizational goals with theirs.
Chances are this is the step that people missed out on the most.
Cohorts of people starting at the same time are usually connected by a strong bond. They are all equally insecure, equally starting a new life. Joint onboarding can create friendships for years to come. This obviously has a strong impact on the overall candidate experience.
So: Find ways to informally connect people with each other.
Pair them up with employees from different departments and backgrounds.
Start from the basics
As you re-onboard new hires, they will have questions on their roles and responsibilities, medical benefits concerns, and time policies. Therefore, consider regular communication and updating policies.
Introduce employees to the workplace
Your remote new hires might never have been to your office. If this is the case, show them around! Give them a tour of need-to-know places, lunch locations, and simply take a walk. Depending on local regulations and industry, you might also need to give them a safety-at-work training.
Have individual reboarding sessions
A face-to-face reboarding chat can be more effective between the manager and employee. A manager can determine how well the new hire is settling into their role. The manager can also offer alternative means to help the new hire settle when necessary. Facilitate that conversation by giving both parties a few guidelines to consider.
Focus on job training
Focus on topics that will assist new employees in completing tasks productively. They need a clear learning path and comprehensive checklists to ensure they work efficiently. Managers can also conduct practical assessments to ensure employees perform based on the set expectations while away.
😷 How to reboard your employees post-pandemic?
Re-boarding in a post-pandemic environment goes beyond bringing employees up to speed with the latest development in your organization. Instead, the approach deployed by the organization should establish your work policy and safeguard your employees' health.
During the post-pandemic, reboarding can apply to:
- Reopening your offices
- Rehired employees after layoffs
- Change in the job position/role
In general, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed how organizations work and find effective ways to welcome back employees. Therefore, reboarding employees is not an easy task. Whether you're working remotely or have embraced a hybrid work model, it is crucial to communicate your updated policies, ways of communication, office structure (for new hires), and redefined roles.
Factors to consider when reboarding post-pandemic
1. Physical workplace: As an employer, you should ensure the facility is safe and minimize any risk of infection if you plan to resume physical work. Before reboarding, provide sufficient space for social distancing and adequate sanitation facilities.
For safety, consider factors like:
- Establish personal contact rules
- Encourage no item sharing where necessary
- Reorganize your floor plan
- Get rid of standard gathering sections
- Close breakroom hangouts
- Create hand sanitizing stations
- Share communal equipment cleaning rules
- Create appropriate face mask mandates
- Limit the number of employees in a closed room
- Create staggered work day shifts and
2. Mental health: The onset of the pandemic has had a mental toll on most individuals due to isolation. An organization reboarding should focus on having a mental health first aid mechanism. Show support to your employees by initiating wellness activities like therapy, meditation, fitness classes, and more.
3. Communication strategy: An organization should have an open communication channel and offer necessary feedback when needed. The communication system should clearly articulate new policies or changes in the existing ones. Additionally, employees should feel free to air their views.
What is the process of reboarding employees post-pandemic?
- Establish a return to work plan: Post-pandemic reboarding is challenging, considering returning employees might feel overwhelmed and anxious. We recommend that organizations set up a team that will oversee the design of the back-to-work plan. The unit can implement and monitor the program. Besides adopting a return-to-work strategy, your project should stick to helping employees acclimatize to their regular duties. You also need to factor in hazards assessment, social distancing, and the Covi-19 action plan.
- Design a reboarding plan based on experience. There is no one-size-fits-all because plans affect employees differently. For instance, new employees will require logistical information alongside additional guidance as they navigate their new physical work environment.
- Training and support resources. After being away, employees may need a refresher in various aspects of their roles. You can distribute resources related to the updated policy, safety information, mental health information, among others. Elsewhere, if employees' roles have changed, they will need to be updated on the primary responsibilities of their role. Employees whose specific roles change will need further training to equip them with the necessary skills to perform efficiently.
- Reinforce your organization's objectives. Employees need to understand that their work towards your organization matters, contributing to meeting the general goals. As the reboarding takes place, clearly communicate the organization's purpose. Bring them up to speed and communicate your objectives. It builds employer-employee trust and strengthens the work culture.
- Consistent communication. When an employer and employee engage regularly, it helps map out goals, reduces anxiety, and supports work culture. An employee may have a significant grasp of the organization's goals, but there's a chance these goals may have changed while they were away. At this stage, you also need to communicate the organization's expectations.
- Communicate your expectations. Managers should strive to re-evaluate priorities and discuss expectations with staff alongside gathering feedback. Note that employees are coming to terms with the additional strain of lockdown.
Adjusting their input and output expectations is viewed far more favorably than those who demanded business-as-usual during the pandemic. As you re-share your organization's expectations, you need to recognize the challenges people face and show compassion by acknowledging that each individual is under different pressures.
- Organize team-building activities. Remember that employees have not met their colleagues in a long time, so make sure they get used to each other as early as possible. Focus on the social aspect of the job and organize activities like fun quizzes or company gatherings to help refamiliarize workers with their colleagues.
- Determine who needs re-onboarding. Some employees might still feel uncomfortable returning to the office post-pandemic. If they raise objections, listen to them. It would be best to survey employees to understand where to begin, who wants to come back, who doesn't, and who should. Notably, an organization needs to factor in that some employees are more productive working remotely.
- Reinforce awareness of cyber security risks. Amid the pandemic, cyber security threats have been rampant. Bad actors are targeting employees. Remind your employees to remain vigilant to avoid falling victims to phishing attacks. An organization can provide information on security training and how to protect sensitive data. Encourage employees to use tools like Virtual Private Networks (VPN).
- Measure impact. Reboarding is a continuous process. You need to measure the outcomes of your reboarding process to understand how you can improve it. Focus on metrics like employee satisfaction, engagement, and assessing the reboarding process's strength.
In general, reboarding manually can be challenging for most organizations due to the tedious work involved. Zavvy offers several onboarding solutions that focus on set goals, eliminating manual work.
📝 Post-pandemic reboarding checklist
An organization's post-pandemic reboarding checklist is guided by two factors: before returning to work and when you resume work. The checklist should match the following aspects:
- Gather relevant resources. Prepare a quick FAQ guide touching on fundamental factors affecting the workplace. You can prepare valuable resources to communicate any policy changes, including employee conduct guidelines.
- Adhere to health guidelines. Ensure your office meets all the Covid-19 containment guidelines. The guidelines mainly focus on vaccination, masks, and sanitation points. Ensure the building is sanitized and hygiene products are readily available. Make readjustment to factor in the social distancing requirements.
- Clarify post-pandemic benefits. The pandemic has altered most organizations' financial outlook. In some cases, organizations have made profits while others are still in recovery mode. Regardless of the situation, employees will be anxious to know if their benefits and perks structure has changed. Therefore, prepare a detailed guide on each employee's perks and share them once they resume work.
- Communicate the changes. Before the employee returns to work, notify them about the changes. You can do this through a video call or an email. Additionally, if your organization is unveiling new employee tools, communicate them in advance, and offer relevant training.
- Adjust and communicate your organization's objectives. While returning from the pandemic, the business priorities might have changed to reflect the new normal. Therefore, design a communication model to ensure everyone is informed.
- Open communication lines. Clarify how you'll update employees and where they should go if they have a question. Ensure the communication line selected is effective for both organization and employees.
- Employee feedback. Strive to gather employee feedback regularly as it shows empathy and care. Use the feedback to ensure employees remain motivated and productive in their duties.
⏯️ How to reboard people who were absent for a while?
This one is mainly for people returning from maternity/paternity leave, sabbaticals, longer sick leaves, etc.
Once you've been out for more than a couple of months, chances are you've missed quite a few things.
Here's what to take into account:
Prepare relevant material and resources. Your employees might have various questions about the organization's path and your expectations. Therefore, you can prepare valuable materials, including reboarding FAQ documents alongside opening communication channels to answer any questions they might have.
Communicate what's changed. Try to convey essential information to the employees on the potential impact of their absence on the organization. Communicate any changes that occurred during the break period, including new hires, departures, organizational structure changes, cost savings, and more. Notably, communication will reassure employees that they are valued, contributing to their overall productivity.
Send a pre-reboarding email. Send an email to the returning employees before they report. The email should have all the details to ensure they have everything they need to get started.
Be aware: Having been gone for a while and noticing that things have also somehow worked out without you, can cause insecurity. Make sure to emphasize your re-joiners prior contributions. Show them you care. Show them your team is glad that they're back.
❌ Avoid these reboarding mistakes
- Failure to reboard internal hires
- Having a short term reboarding plan
- Delayed reboarding
- Lack of reboarding process evaluation
- Lack of feedback loop
📈 Follow these best practices
- Provide training resources
- Involve employees
- Observe constant communications
- Focus on employee feedback
- Stick to Government health guidelines
- Share organization targets and objectives post-pandemic
➡️ Last Words
Re-boarding is not a one-time activity. Organizations should understand reboarding is a slow process that needs careful planning and implementation. Re-boarding is emerging as a critical part of the employee journey, although most organizations often overlook it.
If you are keen on what a reboarding solution can impact your organization, you can focus on third-party solutions. Zavvy is the easiest way to foster performance, culture, and well-being. Whether your team is remote, hybrid, or in-office, you can handle the onboarding and reboarding or create a unique hybrid work environment through our solutions.