Back to basics – Re-boarding of employees is essential 

The continuously changing world is giving birth to new essentials 

We all know that the pandemic brought many critical changes in the workplace culture. But the post-pandemic world has also compelled companies to turn to new processes that were not required earlier. Similar is the case with an employee re-onboarding program. Never heard of this term earlier? Employee re-onboarding is a bit like the onboarding program, but it is not meant to target new employees. Rather, the re-onboarding program focuses on onboarding existing employees in the company. It acts as a refresher for the existing employees.

Need for employee re-onboarding

When the lockdown came, companies somehow managed to hire and onboard new employees remotely. Though digital solutions to onboard new employee served their purpose, it still leaves some scope for improving the overall employee experience. In onboarding employees remotely, the new hires missed experiencing the workplace, its people, and overall its culture in a physical setup. Then, as the pandemic subsided, companies started re-opening their offices. And the need for employee re-onboarding arises.

The relevance of re-onboarding is not just limited to re-opening offices after a long lockdown. There are other cases where you will need the re-onboarding program. For instance, in the last one and a half years, many MNCs have laid off employees. But some of them have also re-hired their laid-off employees. In this scenario, one will need a re-onboarding program since the newly hired employees are former company employees.

What are some situations where you need an employee re-onboarding program?

Though, employee re-onboarding is also meant to be a refresher for existing employees for better assimilation into the company culture. But there are certain situations or scenarios where having an employee re-onboarding program becomes essential.

There are certain instances when an employee joins the office after a long break, such as sabbaticals or maternity/paternity leaves; employees need a re-onboarding program in three to six months; there will be some changes at the workplace related to policies, cultural nuances, and the workplace setting. There will be certain changes in the team dynamics of the individual, which will require some amount of re-orientation.

Some companies also have an internal movement policy. Large conglomorates who have presence in multiple sectors keep shuffling their employees and leaders in different businesses and verticals as part of their group of companies. These are often known as internal transfers. In such cases, the employee either joins a new business in a similar role or a new role altogether. They will need a re-orientation of their role, expectation, culture, and expectation.

In many cases, some companies have to lay off their employees due to financial constraints. But when things get back on track, these companies re-hire the same employees whom they had laid off earlier. In this re-hiring process, they will need to conduct a re-onboarding program since, after the layoff activity, there might be a change in processes and leadership.

When we entered the post-pandemic era, many companies decided to change their EVP (Employee Value Proposition). Since companies had to re-invent their culture due to the impact of COVID-19 on the world, there was a need for a change of values which came with re-inventing the EVP. In such cases, the organization’s expected values and behaviors change, and employees need a refresher on what values and behaviors will help them succeed in the company.

Many organizations also re-opened their offices after a long lockdown. There would be some who got hired and onboarded remotely. After re-opening the offices, people who joined in a virtual setup would want to experience a physical form of onboarding.  

How to design an employee re-boarding program?

When it comes to designing a re-onboarding program, there is not much of a difference. It should include activities that are part of a regular employee onboarding program. But the only difference that may come is the customization part. When we are re-onboarding employees, we will have to customize the delivery of content and activities per the program’s lifecycle and goals. For instance, an employee joining the office after a long break will only be interested in knowing what all changes have occurred at the workplace in the last few months. On the other hand, an employee who has been transferred to a different role may not need much of cultural workshops and orientation but would want to know more about the role, expectations, and skills building which will prepare the employee for the new opportunity.

Scenarios where we need a re-boarding program

We will have to customize the reboarding program as per the business requirements and needs of the employees to be successful in the role. The need for customization is essential because in different situations or employee lifecycle, the aim and objective of the reboarding program will vary. Accordingly, the content, curriculum and activities of the reboarding program will change depending on the aim of the program.

For employees who are joining after a long break

Employees joining the workplace after a long break may not need to go through a long three-month or six-month onboarding plan. They will only need to be refreshed on areas they may have missed out on during their absence.

There might be subtle changes in the workplace setting, or the company might have changed its office from the previous location. They will need a buddy or a mentor to make them familiar with the new workplace or office. For an instance, there will be change in certain policies related to workplace flexibility, performance management or leave policy. Also, since the employee would be joining after a long time, the team dynamics might have changed. There might be some new team members who must have joined or the team manager might have been replaced. So the such scenarios, the focus of the reboarding program should be to make the employee get familiar with all these changes at the workplace. 

For internal transfers

When there is an internal job transfer, the aim of a reboarding program needs to be on how one can prepare the employee for the new role and how can we achieve a smooth transition. 

Therefore, the focus of a reboarding program would be more on skill building, where we would need some cross skilling programs. There would be some hard and soft skills that the employee would need to succeed in the role. So, a robust skill building program is necessary. On top of that, an orientation of the role involving the manager is also essential. This would help the employees to understand what is really expected of them in the role. At last, team bonding activities are also important. It is advisable, if a buddy can be provided to the employees, who can help them in jelling with the new team and get to know the new-coworkers. 

For re-hiring of employees

A robust cultural orientation might not be required in a case we are re-hiring an old employee. Moreover, in such a too much of skill building may not be required too in case the employee is being hired for the same role. But if the role and responsibilities are different, then a bit of skill building and re-orientation is required. Moreover, all the key cultural changes should be communicated to the employee and the old ones would need a bit of refreshment. 

Change in EVP

As you would know, the change in Employee Value Proposition is major over haul in the cultural aspect of the workplace. The values and behaviours are tweaked in accordance with the new market challenges. In fact, many companies did an overhaul of their EVP after reopening their offices post the COVID 19 pandemic. In such cases, the reboarding program will have an emphasis on getting to know the cultural aspect. Moreover, in certain cases when there is a heavy change in required behaviours, activities around behavrioul training may also be required. 

In case of re-opening of offices 

As we would know, after re-opening of offices, the modern workplace required major changes in the mindset, policies and behaviours to succeed in the new era. Pandemic taught us a lot of things. For intance, work from home was not an option at a lot of companies but now it has become a selling point for attracting talent. When such changes occur, we need new set of thinking and acceptance at the workplace to thrive. Further, many companies also changes the design of their workplace for better productivity. Focusing more on making collaborative spaces coupled with isolated stations. Getting familiar with the new workplace is also part of the reboarding program.

When we are living in a constantly changing world, with new technological advances and shifting mindsets, the workplace dynamics will be continuously changing. In the coming days, technologies like AI and machine learning will impact human relations in the workplace. The need for re-onboarding programs will become a necessity for many companies.   

Rather, the need for re-boarding activities might arise every two to three years. There are multiple reasons when I say this. From contant need for re-skilling, upskilling and cross-skilling of employees in these vulnerable times. The impact of technologies like AI and ML and a constant change in the mindset of the workforce and the way it impacts the job market. For instance, there was a time in 2021 and the first half of 2022, when the wave of great resignation was significant. People were leaving their jobs due to immense pressure and stress and finding better opportunities elsewhere. But now, the tables have actually turned. The wave of ‘Great Layoffs’ is at its prime where many companies have retorted to cutting jobs. All these factors impact the dynamics of the workplace and emphasise on the need for re-boarding of employees in the coming times.