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With a return to work, should you re-onboard employees who started remotely during a lockdown?

Should you re-onboard new starters?

Onboarding is a broad term that captures many of the critical moments when a new starter joins your company and begins when your new candidate accepts their job offer from your business. Yet despite what COVID-19 has thrown at us, one common theme remains, onboarding is the process that ensures your new starters are ready for whatever comes at them, whether they’re based at home or in the office.

But if your new starter joined your business virtually, and you’re planning on moving back to the office, should you consider re-onboarding them to an extent, or was your initial onboarding enough to support them, and your business?

In this article, we take a look at why you may want to consider re-onboarding your virtual starters when returning to the workplace, and how you may go around re-onboarding employees who started remotely.

When the country shifted to working from home at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, employers were forced to switch entire elements of their business, including onboarding, to a virtual setting. But with more offices starting to see a return to work, albeit on a hybrid approach, should you consider re-onboarding the staff who began virtually over the past 18-months?

Re-onboarding and welcoming your staff back into the office will play a vital part in the success of your newer team as they grow and develop in your business, while also allowing your company’s social culture to flourish. Research from Glassdoor shows that organisations with strong onboarding practices improve employee retention by 82% and productivity by more than 70%.

The report highlighted that:

  • Great employee onboarding can improve retention by 82%.
  • Only 12% of polled employees think their onboarding was great.
  • Most organisations only focus 1 week on onboarding.

One way to look at this question is from a legal perspective. If your new joiner is coming into the office for the first time, then they’ll need to be informed of building processes, from something as simple as what the fire procedure is, to where the first-aider sits, in case they’re required to fill in an accident form. Then there are other assessments you’ll need to perform, such as a Display Screen Equipment (DSE) assessment that will identify what improvements can be made to an employee’s workstation.

But then there are also the more personal elements to consider for new starters like, security protocols (Do they need to be issued an ID badge?), conference room booking procedures, office rules (For instance, foods that are banned due to allergies), and even the more mundane things like where the tea and coffee making facilities and toilets are located.

Re-onboarding is not just about switching from your home routine and moving your staff back to the office; it’s also re-onboarding your company culture and the teams within it. The entire process should address, support and educate how your employees can reach out for support if they struggle to adjust to work back in the office, to covering topics such as requirements for returning to the office, how layouts and cleaning measures may have changed, and what your expectations are for how employees use common spaces.

But what are some common onboarding activities that could form part of your re-onboarding process?

6 onboarding activities that should be part of the re-onboarding experience

1. The dress code: If your staff have been working from home, you may have relaxed your dress code, but with staff returning to the office and beginning to undertake face-to-face meetings with clients, you may want to reintroduce the dress code to your new staff.

2. Defining the employees’ workstation: With both new and established staff coming back to the office, part of the re-onboarding process could include defining the employees’ workspace. Do they have a COVID secure place to work? Do they have all the equipment they need?

3. Order security cards and keys: With most offices having a secure entry system, do all of the pandemic new-starters have the required keys to get access? At this stage, you may also want to review your offboarding process, have you removed/collected these from all of the staff who have left during the office closure?

4. Face-to-Face introduction to the team: Perhaps the most missed perk of being based in the office, your re-onboarding experience offers a great opportunity to introduce your new staff members not only to their team but also to the wider company, including key figures such as management and health and safety officers.

5. Organising a work tour: This re-onboarding task can extend to both your new starters, but also your existing staff. If you’ve introduced social distancing elements to the workplace, you can use the tour to explain them to all of your staff, as well as introducing locations like meeting rooms, the kitchen and other shared spaces to new staff.

6. Review all policies, such as safety and security policies: Whilst some staff have joined your company, you may have also had some staff leave during the lockdown, so as part of your general re-onboarding, have you considered reviewing all of your policies from Fire Safety to Health and Safety? Do you still have enough trained staff on-site to cover your legal duties or do you need to invest in training for your staff?

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Natural HR

About Natural HR

Natural HR is a cloud-based HR software company for growing businesses with 100+ employees. Since launching in 2010, we’ve been building a comprehensive suite of HR functionality that equips the small to medium-sized enterprise with everything needed to build an effective and efficient HR operation.