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What is reboarding and how it can boost retention rates

The process of reboarding, though not entirely new, has found renewed importance in the wake of global shifts such as the pandemic, technological advancements, and changing employee expectations.

Alexandros Pantelakis
Alexandros Pantelakis

HR content specialist at Workable, delivering in-depth, data-driven articles to offer insights into industry and tech trends.

Reboarding or internal onboarding is the process of reintegrating employees into the workplace, whether they’re returning after a significant absence, transitioning within the company, or adapting to substantial organizational changes. 

Unlike onboarding, which is designed for new employees, reboarding focuses on those who are already familiar with the company but need updates on policies, procedures, or their roles due to changes during their absence.

Reboarding adapts to changes

The purpose of reboarding is multifaceted. It aims to ensure a smooth transition for employees back into their work environment, enhance engagement, and update them on any changes that have occurred. 

This process is crucial for maintaining continuity and ensuring that employees feel valued and informed, which, in turn, supports their productivity and the organization’s overall resilience.

Historically, reboarding was a less formalized process, often reserved for employees returning from extended leaves. 

However, the concept has evolved significantly, especially due to the pandemic’s impact on work models. 

The shift to remote and hybrid work environments has underscored the need for reboarding as a more structured and strategic approach, ensuring employees remain connected and engaged regardless of their physical workplace.

Why is reboarding important?

Reboarding plays a pivotal role in boosting employee engagement and morale. We already know that onboarding could lead to a 70% reduction in new hire turnover within the first year, so we can imagine how effective it could be for reboarding. 

Engaging employees through reboarding shows a commitment to their development and well-being, fostering a positive organizational culture.

Let’s see now other beneficial aspects of reboarding

Productivity and efficiency

The reintroduction of employees to the workplace through reboarding significantly enhances productivity and efficiency. 

By updating employees on new processes, technologies, and policies, organizations can minimize the learning curve and enable employees to contribute effectively in a shorter timeframe. 

Eddy’s insights on reboarding emphasize its benefits in terms of efficiency, consistency, and thoroughness, which are crucial for maintaining operational effectiveness.

Retention and turnover

Effective reboarding strategies are also linked to improved retention rates. The process helps mitigate feelings of disconnect or obsolescence that might occur during extended absences, addressing potential concerns proactively. 

When is reboarding necessary?

Reboarding is not a one-size-fits-all process, it’s beneficial in various scenarios beyond the return of employees from leaves of absence. These include:

Returning employees: Whether from parental leave, sabbaticals, or medical leave, reboarding helps reintegrate employees into their roles and the company culture.

Promotions or internal transfers: As employees take on new roles or responsibilities, reboarding ensures they are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills.

Rehired employees: For individuals returning to the company after a stint elsewhere, reboarding can update them on changes that have occurred in their absence.

Significant organizational changes: Mergers, acquisitions, policy updates, or shifts in strategic direction all necessitate reboarding to align employees with the new organizational landscape.

Transitions to new work models: The move to remote or hybrid models is a prime example of a scenario requiring comprehensive reboarding to address the unique challenges and opportunities these models present.

Building a successful reboarding program

A well-structured reboarding program is essential for ensuring employees are effectively reintegrated into the workplace. The following components are crucial:

Welcome and re-Integration: Creating a welcoming environment for returning employees is vital. This includes formal welcome-back meetings and informal catch-ups with team members to rebuild connections.

Training and updates: Providing up-to-date training on new tools, technologies, and company policies ensures employees are prepared to resume their roles effectively. 

This training should be tailored to the individual’s needs and the extent of changes that have occurred during their absence.

Communication of changes: Clear and comprehensive communication about any organizational changes, including shifts in strategy, leadership, or operational processes, is essential for transparency and alignment.

Performance management and goal setting: Setting clear expectations and goals for returning employees helps them understand their role in the organization’s objectives and how they can contribute to success.

Regular check-ins and support: Ongoing support through regular check-ins allows for addressing any concerns or challenges that may arise, ensuring a smooth transition back into the workplace.

Best practices and strategies for reboarding

Implementing an effective reboarding program requires thoughtful planning and execution. Here are some best practices to consider:

Tailor the program to individual needs: Recognize that each employee’s reboarding experience will be unique. Customize the program based on the duration of their absence, the reason for their return, and any significant changes that have occurred.

Utilize a variety of methods: Incorporate different reboarding methods, such as one-on-one meetings, group training sessions, and digital resources, to accommodate diverse learning styles and needs.

Seek feedback: Encourage feedback from reboarded employees to continually refine and improve the reboarding process. This feedback can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of the program and areas for enhancement.

Leverage technology: Use technology to facilitate aspects of the reboarding process, such as virtual reality for immersive training experiences or AI-powered platforms for personalized learning paths.

Focus on culture and connection: Emphasize the importance of reconnecting with the company culture and fostering relationships among team members. 

This can include team-building activities or social events designed to reintegrate employees into the organizational community.

Reboarding is a critical process that goes beyond merely updating employees on new policies or procedures. It’s about re-establishing connections, aligning with the company’s strategic direction, and ensuring employees feel valued and engaged. 

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