Many businesses, having experienced the challenges of adapting to a global pandemic, are now recognizing that there are challenges associated with returning to a new normal. For this reason, it’s instructive to consider this an opportunity to review onboarding and reboarding practices – to reset them to be more successful. One way to do this is to bust some myths that have been associated with onboarding that also apply to reboarding.
Myth #1: The process consists primarily of forms that need to be completed and information that the employee needs to read and absorb. HR takes care of this.
Onboarding is the entire process of helping employees become an integral, contributing part of the organization. That means they need to understand the corporate culture, the core values that drive behaviors, the expectations that are made of them, etc. This information is most effectively received when it comes from the employee’s manager and other team members. Ensuring this collaboration across the team not only means that the new employee will get to know the other members of the team, but will ensure all team members know the strengths of each member, including the new/returning member.
It’s tempting to think that employees who are returning to work will just show up, sit at the same workstation, and get back to work. Don’t be fooled. Just as new employees need to meet with their manager, returning employees should be able to have 1:1 meetings as well. Each employee has faced challenges that are unique to them and each manager needs to understand the level of support each employee will need and the degree of engagement to expect. Managers should also know how to get help for an employee who appears to be suffering from the effects of continued stress.
Myth #2: The entire process takes place over a period of a few days at most, starting with Day 1 on the job.
Companies that are consistently identified as best places to work generally have onboarding programs that begin before the first day on the job and that last more than 6 months, frequently spanning the employee’s first year with the organization. As we move to reboarding employees whose work situation may have been impacted by COVID-19 (furloughed, taking on additional work to cover for those furloughed, or working remotely), expect that it may take a year or more to adapt to the “new normal”.
Myth #3: You can create a single process and replicate it with each new or returning employee.
As we try to build workplaces that are more diverse, more inclusive, and that promote a sense of belonging on the part of every employee, it is important to consider the need to create a personalized onboarding program. This doesn’t mean that some components can’t be standardized, but it does mean that you should consider the differences people bring to the workplace. Does your new hire learn best in a social learning environment or through self-directed study? Do they know and are they comfortable with the software you use for sharing information and meetings or do they need support from a buddy? Do they know the acronyms and specific terms your business and your organization uses or is this gobbledegook to them? What is it about their personality, experiences, and skills that contributes to the team and how do you best leverage those?