Reboarding: How to bring employees back post-covid

This is a guest post by Jesse Finn.

Whether temporary furloughs due to COVID-19, other related employment separation, or even re-hiring boomerang employees, the question is, how do you effectively bring your employees back-on-board and ensure they feel safe, secure, and ready to perform? The answer is a process called reboarding.

What is Reboarding?

Reboarding is most commonly applicable for staff members who have been away from your organization for an extended period. It is designed to re-familiarize your returning colleagues with your company, bring them up-to-speed on relevant changes, integrate them back into the culture of your workplace and empower them to get back to ‘business-as-usual’ as soon as possible.

Why is Reboarding Important?

Reboarding is sort of like starting a job all over again, it’s the very rare ‘second chance to make a first impression’. Think of it as your opportunity to re-energize your employees and make it easy for them to be passionate about working for your organization.

From a purely business perspective, reboarding has a big impact on ‘time-to-productivity’.

When your staff have been absent from their role for a long period, there is a steep learning curve to get them up-to-speed on organizational changes and back on top of whatever projects they were working on before their departure. A good reboarding process helps get their head back in the game and dust off their skillset, ready to hit the ground running on day 1.

And it goes beyond that.

Done well, reboarding is just as much about an emotional reconnection – especially in times such as this where your employees have ‘gone through it’ mentally and are in a vulnerable position.

Effective reboarding will let you gauge the state of your employee’s mental and emotional wellbeing and help put in place safeguards and measures to ensure they feel looked after.

How do you reboard effectively?

Most organizations have employees returning from two specific scenarios:

1 Remote working. Your employee has continued to work but has done so from home, conducting business under a ‘new normal’.

2 On-hold. Your employee has not been actively working outside of any remote engagement activities you have set-up.

To build an effective reboarding strategy, we’ll be taking stock of both scenarios and borrowing techniques from world-class onboarding processes that put the focus on employee experience.

Six reboarding techniques [for ultimate success]

  1. Build clear internal communication lines. Foster trust with your returning employees by setting clear expectations and following through on promises from the outset.
  2. Tell dynamic stories. Re-introduce the why of what your company does to remind your employees why they started working with you in the first place.
  3. Check-in early & often. Don’t leave your returning colleagues in the dark. Connect with them early and often.
  4. Eliminate hurdles. Make information easily available by centralizing useful resources so your employees can explore in their downtime and answer their own questions.
  5. Drip feed information. Avoid overwhelming your returning teams by drip-feeding relevant information and content throughout the entire process.
  6. Focus on social connection. Rebuild a social environment that inspires cross-departmental connections and helps your employees develop strong interpersonal relationships.

Bringing it all together

A good reboarding strategy will only be effective if you clearly communicate your plan from the beginning.

If you can, hold a company-wide conference call before reboarding starts involving all relevant stakeholders. Alternatively, if your company is very large, hold a high-level call with your managers first and have them connect with their individual teams. Outline what the plan is, give them some background with what you’re hoping to achieve through the process, and encourage constructive feedback!