According to the Office for National Statistics over 49% of adults in employment were working from home in April 2020 as opposed to their regular place of work, due to the ongoing pandemic. As the COVID curve declines and the world navigates a ‘new normal’, organisations are now faced with the task of bringing those employees back into the workplace.
HR departments are having to think about strategies to help employees return. The question is how can they do this safely, securely and ensure that people are ready to work again? The answer is reboarding.
Reboarding is the process of bringing back employees who have been away from the business for an extended period of time, typically those who return after maternity or sick leave and sabbatical. Organisations should have a ‘back to work’ programme in place designed to help re-integrate these employees.
Post COVID-19 it is vital organisations implement a similar reboarding programme, to help those returning cope with the new pressures and regain clarity around their roles.
Ross Stevenson, Senior Learning and Development Specialist was a guest speaker at our recent roundtable session, and spoke about the importance of having a structure in place for returning workers. The three main reasons being, employee wellbeing, business health and speed to productivity and growth.
Having a reboarding plan in place is not only beneficial for employees but the organisation itself. It will help alleviate the uncertainty around coming back, which in turn will help employees to settle back into their roles quicker and more efficiently thus leading to better productivity and business growth.
Tailor a programme specific to the needs of your employees, include information on how the office will look and individual job roles as well as any organisational changes. There is heightened anxiety around returning but a defined plan will ensure people are put at ease and mentally prepared to return.
Think of it like the onboarding programme - when new employees start they need all the relevant information in a clear and concise manner. Make sure each employee knows exactly what the changes are, how to find information and how to seek help.
Avoid overwhelming employees by drip-feeding relevant information and content over a period of time. The reboarding programme should last around 6 - 12 weeks and you should offer ongoing support beyond that point if needed.
As social distancing measures remain in place even as we return to work, limit face-to-face training sessions by utilising digital tools and e-learning. You can create bespoke digital training specific to your organisation to help assimilate all the information to returning workers.
After a few months of being away from the office, help rebuild social connections between teams and different departments. Encourage collaboration and team building to help the organisation re-integrate.
Implementing a mental health and wellbeing programme would be highly beneficial if your organisation doesn’t already have one. It is important to check-in and continue to make sure your staff are looked after and mentally healthy.
In order to make your reboarding programme a success, take the time to understand the situation and your employees. Clear communication and a thought out reboarding strategy will greatly help your organisation and your people.