What Is Reboarding?

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Reboarding is the concept of bringing individuals back who were previous employees but away for some period of time. The idea is to modify onboarding for someone who is already familiar with your company but has been away. Reboarding is a big topic right now due to the thousands of employees being brought back to work after a coronavirus-related furlough or an extended workplace closure.

There are a lot of steps employers must take to ensure a successful reboarding process. Here are a few:

  • Advise your employees of new virus-related policies. For example:
    • What are the organization’s personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements? Will these be voluntary or mandatory? What will be provided by the company?
    • What are the expectations regarding interacting with coworkers? What about clients or vendors?
    • How many people are allowed in the workplace at once or in any given space?
    • What other social distancing guidelines are in place?
    • Will temperature checks be required?
    • Who should be notified if an employee feels ill?
    • How should employees handle it if they need to cough or sneeze? What is the protocol?
  • Explain everything the organization has been working on in the interim, such as new clients, new vendors, or product/process updates.
  • If any other changes have been implemented in the meantime, provide training on these. For example, many organizations are using videoconferencing services much more than before, but employees who have not been with the organization for the past couple months may not yet know how to use them.
  • If any system or software log-ins were reset or closed, these will need to be reinstated.
  • If any benefits were canceled, they will also need to be reinstated. The organization will need to determine whether typical waiting periods will or will not be implemented when applicable.
  • If there is a new telecommuting policy, the details of that need to be explained.
  • If new benefits are available, communicate these. If old benefits are no longer available, advise on this, too.
  • Tactfully communicate about how soon other employees will be brought back onboard and whether all employees will eventually come back.
  • Communicate about any changes to an employee’s role or responsibilities upon return.

Reboarding Employees After COVID-19: Other Considerations

Right now, another factor employers need to take into account is that this virus crisis has created a situation in which many people are struggling with mental health. Bringing people back should be treated gently. Some tips:

  • Be sure communication is frequent, and pay attention to things from employees’ perspectives.
  • Be careful not to overwhelm them too quickly with too much information.
  • Consider adding benefits to address this issue, like an employee assistance program (EAP), if you don’t already have one. (If you do have one, ensure everyone is aware of it and how to use it.)
  • Communicate about the mental health resources that are available via your healthcare benefits or wellness program, if applicable.
  • Remember that employees coming back from furlough may have an eroded level of trust in the organization, especially if it was not something that impacted every employee.
  • Talk with employees who are coming back about their changed needs in this situation.

One final tip for employers: Remember that the HR team will need to continue to communicate with employees who were not yet brought back to ensure they’re kept in the loop. Advise whether they will be brought back and when, if you can.

Bridget Miller is a business consultant with a specialized MBA in International Economics and Management, which provides a unique perspective on business challenges. She’s been working in the corporate world for over 15 years, with experience across multiple diverse departments including HR, sales, marketing, IT, commercial development, and training.

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