It’s been referred to as “onboarding’s lesser-known-cousin” and, while hilarious, that’s a pretty accurate description! Reboarding is, essentially, refamiliarizing your employees with your organization’s structure, culture, policies and processes; taking them back to the fundamentals after they’ve been away for an extended period, or to introduce evolving policies, processes or systems after some *serious change* has occurred in the workplace.

As we continue to navigate a working world where we’re never quite sure what might happen from one day to the next, implementing a strategic reboarding strategy is an excellent way for employers to improve retention, increase motivation and productivity and provide a continually positive employee experience.

And employees actually want this?

They do! In the current market, candidates are keen to join companies that support their growth and development, and an organization that encourages its employees to pursue ongoing training and learning opportunities is certainly doing something right.

Need more proof? Get this: in a recent LinkedIn poll, we discovered that a whopping 59% of professionals believe that reboarding should be made available to all employees at an organization, regardless of their tenure or the specifics of their role.

When does it make sense to reboard someone?

There’s no real rules around when or when not to reboard. While it’s most commonly offered to individuals returning to the office after an extended time away (think medical leave, a sabbatical, parental leave, etc.), there’s also plenty of other situations where implementing a reboarding process makes sense:

  • As an annual “refresher course”

Keep employees sharp with an annual refresher course where you can reshare some of your valuable onboarding content that may have changed or been forgotten over the years. This also gives you a unique opportunity to refocus and remotivate your team, and to remind them of the important role they play within the organization.

  • When returning to the office after a period of remote work

This one’s been especially relevant recently, and it’s no wonder! With many employees returning to a physical office for the first time in years, it’s bound to be a bit of a shock to the system, and reboarding can help ease that transition for staff who are transitioning back to the office, or into a hybrid role within the organization.

  • Alternatively, when moving out of the office and into a remote position

Same idea, just backwards. If you’ve got an employee who’s used to working from the office, moving into a remote role is a huge change. Having a clear reboarding program specifically for remote staff is a good way to get them feeling comfortable with their new set-up, and checking in regularly during those first few weeks will remind them that they’re supported and part of the team, even if they can’t be there in person.

  • After an internal promotion or transfer

Don’t assume an employee is ready to dive right into a new role just because they’re still with the same company. After an internal promotion or a transfer to a new department or division, it’s important to demonstrate enthusiasm, encouragement and support as the employee figures out how to manage their new responsibilities and job functions.

  • After notable changes in the organization

Okay, we’re all at the point when we can agree there’s no “return to normal”, right? Great. Most organizations have gone through an incredible amount of change over the last few years, rapidly adapting, innovating and, more often than they may care to admit, flying by the seat of their pants – implementing new systems, adopting new technology and finding workarounds for processes that no longer make sense. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to revisit training on these newly established programs and procedures now that the dust seems to have finally settled.

  • And, of course, after extended time away

Coming back to new faces, new leadership, new policies, a new coffee machine – it’s a lot! Take the time to refamiliarize your returning employee with the ins-and-outs of the office and the company, reminding them about things like dress code or recurring meetings and giving them time to reconnect with their manager and team.

Top tips for successful reboarding

Be welcoming and supportive

They may not be the new kid on the block, but a returning employee will probably still feel pretty nervous on their first day back! Providing a positive employee experience can do wonders for calming the nerves, so be sure to help them feel welcomed and reconnected to the company, and offer support and encouragement as they get back into the swing of things.

Clarity is essential

An air of mystery is not the goal here: if you want your team to buy in to your efforts, you’ve got to give them all the relevant information. Be as clear as possible about what their reboarding will look like, why it’s being provided and what employees can expect to get out of the process.

Easy does it

It can be tempting to give your returning team member the reigns right out of the gate, after all, they’ve done this before, haven’t they? Even if the employee seems keen to hit the ground running, resist the urge to pile on too much work too quickly. It can be easy to get overwhelmed during those first few days, so make sure to provide adequate time for them to settle back into their role.

Make it interesting

Do away with dusty old training manuals and focus on providing reboarding training that’s – dare we say it? – actually engaging. It’s a good idea to break up the material by providing several shorter pieces of content for employees to review, rather than one that’s overly lengthy. If possible, incorporate media (like videos), in-person sessions and Q+A periods alongside the standard PowerPoint presentations.

Keep your culture top of mind

Culture is created and, as you probably know, it takes a lot of ongoing effort to maintain that sense of comraderie and community in the workplace. During the reboarding process, reinforce your purpose and mission, and remind your returning employee of the important part they play in the organization successfully achieving both its short-term and long-term goals.

Encourage feedback

It’s all about continuous learning and improvement, right? Make sure to ask for feedback from your team regarding your reboarding program. You can then use this insight to make adjustments and better your processes for next time!