Reboarding employees during and after the coronavirus: 5 questions and 5 tips
01 July 2021
- What do you mean by ‘reboarding’?
“In our book, we give the following definition: ‘All activities and initiatives that help to guide and align employees in the transition from A to B,’” says Wenda Bolink. “It is a concept that we often use in change processes. In periods of change, you need to pay extra attention to alignment. That means taking your employees into the new reality, managing their expectations and helping them to continue to be successful both during and after the transformation.”
- Why do you say that reboarding is especially important now?
Sascha Becker: “Because of the coronavirus, many organisations face having to work differently to the way they are used to. A new reality is emerging. And even if the pandemic is over soon, many organisations will probably not return to the way things were before. So, it becomes important to guide and lead managers and employees to the “new organisation”. Experience shows that, as part of this, you have to take into account the grief curve, or the change curve. One aspect of going through a major change is that you have to say goodbye to the situation as it was. This is something we will all have to do, and it is a process that we need to begin now.”
- What is the role of top management and (change) leaders?
Wenda: “Top management and change leaders are always a number of steps ahead of employees. It is important they realise that employees need time to move through the different phases of the change curve. It’s important to pay attention to – and continue paying attention to – your employees’ emotions, needs and wishes. During change, top managers and change leaders need to support employees with initiatives and interventions that will help them move to the new reality. The coronavirus employee survey by Motivaction and PROOF shows that 62% of employees feel valued by their manager. That’s high, and it is vital to maintain this. Having management pay the right kind of attention will remain important.”
- What approach should we be taking to reboarding?
“In a change situation in which a lot is about to happen, it is a good idea to think of your current employees as new ones, and to introduce them to the new organisation in the same way you would if you were onboarding them. So, you need to invest in a reboarding programme in which you explain the new organisational story, rationally and emotionally, and support them during the different phases of the change curve. By offering the right information and support, you ensure employees remain involved, know where the organisation is going and make an active contribution,” says Wenda.
- What impact does reboarding have on the employee journey as a whole?
Sascha: “The new story needs to be loaded, or given meaning, during every phase and at every contact moment in the employee journey. It’s about taking a structural approach to building a positive employee experience. With the employee journey, you map the most important contact moments and investigate where the greatest pain lies. Then you make a short and long-term plan to align the employee experience with the new organisational story. Start inside. Leadership and internal communication have priority. They provide the foundation for a positive employee experience.”
5 tips for effective reboarding
- Consider your employees’ emotions.
Make sure you understand the emotions, wishes, needs and experiences of your employees and adjust your communication and interventions accordingly.
- Make top managers aware of the change curve.
Top management and change leaders are even more at the forefront when an organisation is evolving. Make sure they understand that their employees must first go through the change curve process before they can actively contribute. This requires patience and attention.
- Take an integrated approach and link this to concrete initiatives, programmes and interventions that will help employees to be successful as quickly as possible.
As with onboarding, a reboarding programme should be owned by Communications and HR. After all, it marks the start of the employee experience in the “new” organisation. Ensuring that, during reboarding, all communication and HR activities reinforce each other contributes to both a rapid acceptance of the change and the active contribution by employees to the new ambitions.
- Reboard all employees – including those less impacted.
You build a new organisation together. So, you have to involve every employee, including those for whom the change will have less impact. Moreover, joint reboarding builds connections between employees.
- Ensure you have a good follow-up.
To make employees feel part of the story, you have to ensure that every contact moment is meaningful. Use the employee journey to map out the pain points and make a plan for the short and long term.
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