Onboarding employees is crucial to their first experiences of an organisation. It can make all the difference between an engaged and disengaged member of your workforce, and once they’re onboarded you never need to worry about it again… right? WRONG! There are many reasons why the process of onboarding may need to be repeated including organisational changes that directly impact employees, new processes and procedures, internal career development with employees moving between departments and roles, and employees returning from periods of absence. We tend to refer to this as ‘reboarding’.
The concept of “reboarding” isn’t new, but in these unprecedented times we have a great opportunity to challenge ourselves on how well we’re doing it, how quickly we’re responding to returning employees and how well we’re equipping people for changes in their roles. Anyone who is returning to work after an extended period of absence e.g. maternity leave, long term sickness and the most common reason at the moment is furlough, needs to not only be reintroduced to the working environment, but they need to be supported through any changes that have occurred while they have been absent. For those who are being moved into different roles in a response to COVID-19, or have had their roles repurposed for the short/medium term, ‘reboarding’ is also a really important way of ensuring they have all the information they need in order to adjust to these changes.
For many organisations during this time the changes are big. Employees may be returning to a completely different way of working; to a remote team rather than an office team, to the idea of flexible working hours as opposed to 9 to 5. Don’t assume that everyone will adjust with ease; while working remotely may be a dream come true to a lot of people it is also going to feel difficult for those who thrive when they’re around others. Regardless of whether people have been used to working from home every now and then, the new “normal” is working from home every working day of the week. I spoke to one organisation recently who highlighted the latter as a huge adjustment for a high proportion of their workforce. For employees who have spent their entire careers in the office working 9 to 5 and switching off outside of traditional working hours, a move to remote working and having to flex their schedules to accommodate for childcare or clients with similar domestic challenges is a significant change. Someone returning to work who isn’t able to sit down with a manager face to face or settle back into their usual office and team environment will need to be supported, nurtured and motivated. So much of what has been “normal” is being challenged by the lockdown and Coronavirus in general; how do we keep employees invested in our organisations?
You might think employees are already invested your employer brand because they wanted to work for your organisation in the first place. However, over time and with organisational development and changes employees can become disillusioned and disengaged. For anyone who has been out of the workplace for an extended period of time on maternity leave or sickness leave they may feel really excited to return to work but the chances are they will be returning to an organisation and way of working that feels very different. If the employee is returning from furlough they may return with questions about their place in the organisation. They might feel concerned about their position longer term and wonder if they hold the same value as they did previously. In such uncertain times we are faced with a new set of challenges. Enhancing your employee value proposition (EVP) by implementing the following things should help you to re-inspire, re-motivate and most importantly retain important talent:
As testing as these times are, we are facing a significant opportunity to revisit our methods of employee engagement. We should use this as a transformative experience to adapt to new ways of operating, engaging and nurturing talent.
By Helen Simpson, Head of Northern Star. Northern Star is a certified and dedicated Cornerstone OnDemand partner.