Reboarding with empathy, how to keep it human!

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Are you ready to bring your staff back to the workplace? With the lockdown easing, your business could give the green light any day. When you do get the go-ahead, you’ll have a small window of time to get everyone on board and playing by a new set of rules for a post-pandemic workplace. You’ll be reboarding like you’ve never reboarded before — not just a few employees but every single one of them and in record time and that’s where technology can make all the difference.

Reboarding in the current climate is about more than clearly communicating the new procedures and working practices you have in place. It is also about reassurance and connecting with your employees on a human level as the current climate increases anxiety and stress levels. In part 4 of our blog series, Employee Engagement in Isolation and Beyond, we look at how you can leverage digital technology to prepare and execute your reboarding program.

Democratizing reboarding

How do your employees feel about returning to the workplace? Some may be raring to go, while others feel hesitant. Wherever they lie along this spectrum, it is vital to get their input and insights. Here’s why:

So, how can do you do this? Why not incorporate employee surveys, virtual coaching and rapid content development into your approach?

Video or text?

For small teams, carrying out a survey could be as simple as arranging one-on-one video conferences with each of your employees. For larger teams, an online survey may be more appropriate.

In either case, it is important to emphasize that the answers they provide will remain strictly confidential. For the most honest and accurate results, surveys of this nature should ideally be conducted privately with reassurances provided that an individual’s answers will remain private. This helps eliminate the pressure of conformity, where, for example, in a group discussion, an employee may feel obliged to say they feel comfortable with returning to the physical workplace after hearing others voice this sentiment.

It is equally important to highlight the value of your employees’ answers to ensure the highest possible uptake of your survey. Be clear that their answers serve a vital function, namely to inform how reboarding and reopening the workplace will happen.

It can also be useful to provide an alternative way for your employees to provide their answers if they aren’t comfortable doing so via your chosen format, whether that is a video conference or an online survey.

A wealth of insights

Your survey can provide both practical and emotional information on your employees, from whether they use public transport to get to work or have childcare constraints to whether they feel comfortable about returning to work and what measures they wish to see in place, to feel safe.

Questions can include a mix of predefined answer options to give you some concrete numbers and percentages as well as open-ended questions that encourage employees to provide a more holistic view of their current mood.

With all of this data to hand, you can then make more informed decisions on how and perhaps whether to get all or some of your employees back into the workplace.

You can keep the conversation going via group video conferencing or another online survey to gather and develop ideas to make your workplace COVID secure.

Free tools you can use to send out your survey include Google Forms and SurveyMonkey, although there are several other alternatives.

Putting your reboarding into action

With your new procedures and working practices established, it is time to educate your employees on the new rules of play. However, you also need  to get their buy-in so compliance remains high.

Video is a fantastic medium for this, it delivers on the much-needed emotional dimension that is a natural part of face-to-face communication.  Using Zoom or one of several other similar platforms, you can host briefing sessions or take a live tour through your premises showing exactly how things will work, from one-way systems and social distancing markers to new hygiene measures.

You can just as easily pre-record these messages if getting everyone together at the same time is a challenge. Now is not the time for flashy avatars and animations. Maintain that same human element, talk straight to the camera to deliver a clear message whether it is instructive, for example, on new working practices, or reassuring, for example, letting your employees know you are all in this together and you’re doing your best to address their concerns. Use a platfrom that enables swift content publishing, with a social dimension and the ability to link out to internal and external resources, feel free to take a look at how On.Board supports rapid program implementation.

There are no hard and fast rules for the best way to get back to work post-pandemic. We’re all adapting and innovating. But when it comes to reboarding your employees, clarity, reassurance, and open conversation are essential to make the transition smoother.


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