‘Reboarding’: why your Employer Brand is key to keeping your employees invested

Onboarding vs ‘reboarding’: why is it important?

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?

Reboarding by reinvigorating your Employer Brand

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:

  • Information – it can be hard returning after a lengthy period of absence. Consider the reasons why this individual has been absent. If they have been furloughed they may be feeling uneasy about their position in the company. If they have been on maternity leave or long term sickness the same might apply. In any case, the individual may be looking for assurance and will most certainly want all the up to date company information. Think about how you can provide this via a combination of mediums; technology, 1:1s, team meetings etc.
  • Coaching – in connection to the above, your employee may have lost confidence as a result of their absence or the altered landscape they are returning to. Coaching can help them to find their confidence again and set new goals.
  • Mentoring – while coaching will help individuals to think for themselves and overcome their personal and professional barriers, mentoring will help to guide them if they’re feeling a bit lost amongst all the change. Consider setting up a mentoring scheme to enable your workforce to support and guide each other. This isn’t just the role of a Manager.
  • Content – providing up to date and relevant content to re-introduce the employee to the organisation is key. You may have new policies and procedures they need to understand, new ways of working that can be illustrated via a simple but effective piece of eLearning. They may have skills they want to brush up on or new skills they want to learn. Topical, accessible, and digestible content is vitally important for your workforce, particularly when they are working remotely.
  • Community – creating a sense of community will provide security and comfort to your employees. Create online community spaces where they can access information, share knowledge and ideas with each other and collaborate on projects.
  • Redesign your internal and external careers pages – as much as you’ll want to inspire your internal talent to keep developing within your organisation, there may be a big opportunity to attract new talent too. People who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic and economic downturn will be looking for roles in organisations who have shown strength and agility through these times. They will be attracted to those who have embraced the move to virtual working and used the pandemic as an opportunity to optimise their employer brand. As difficult as this situation is, it is also one of the greatest opportunities we will ever have to challenge ourselves as organisations and as individuals to be better, stronger and more robust.

 The bottom line…

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.

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