Three Reasons to 'Re-Onboard' Your Employees in 2023
More than ever, employees are prioritizing work-life balance, flexibility and health when making career decisions; remote and hybrid work is a big part of that. But on the flip side, as we adjust to what, to most people, is a new way of doing things, both employees and managers are reporting a growing sense of disconnect, team misalignment and increased turnover.
For employers, turnover isn’t cheap. A study by Compdata Surveys found that attrition costs companies an average of 50% to 200% of an employee’s annual salary. The costs can arise from time and effort in recruiting, loss of key skills, reduction in productivity, increased coworker burden, and decreased engagement and morale across the team. Clearly, there is room — and incentive — for improvement.
That improvement begins with recognizing how much things have changed; employees who joined the organization before remote and hybrid work became the norm may need additional training to adapt. Even newer team members may have seen their role — and the company’s broader culture — change over time.
Which brings us to re-onboarding. Re-onboarding your employees fosters connection and alignment on values. And for management, it’s a great opportunity to solicit feedback and make sure that those values are contributing to employee happiness.
What Is Employee Re-onboarding?
Employee re-onboarding is exactly what it sounds like — a back-to-basics reset for teams that have fallen out of sync. Whether this happens virtually or in person depends on your business; in either case, a proactive re-onboarding plan should include four components, which we’ve borrowed from Talya N. Baur’s research for the SHRM Foundation:
- Compliance: Teaching basic legal and policy-related rules and regulations. For new employees, this typically includes tax forms, benefits paperwork, etc.; for existing employees, it may be a refresher in best practices around security, expense reimbursement and related policies.
- Clarification: Removing ambiguity around an employee’s role and expectations; during re-onboarding, this is an opportunity to address bottlenecks and better define responsibilities and priorities.
- Culture: Understanding and interpreting an organization’s values, goals and unique language. During re-onboarding, management should ask itself tough questions: are we everything we say we are? Do we live our values?
- Connection: Developing and strengthening the interpersonal connections between team members and across the organization. This can include setting up meet-and-greets, establishing a buddy program, team lunches — whatever makes the most sense for your business.
These last two points are most critical, as they are where organizations often drop the ball, both during a traditional onboarding, and in the day-to-day business of managing a team. Baur’s research has shown that, of the four points covered above, ‘connection’ has the greatest impact on business metrics. It is also, often, the area that requires the most corrective action during re-onboarding — it can and should be the main focus during any re-onboarding program.
Why Re-Onboard? Why Now?
The start of a new year is traditionally a time when people try to break bad habits. Businesses are no exception. Re-onboarding your team in 2023, when done purposefully and with enthusiasm, will create alignment around several important goals:
1. Avoiding role conflict
As your team grows, long-term employees may begin to feel like they don’t know how their role fits into a changing environment. While articulating expectations is important for new hires, it is just as important to periodically communicate expectations to other team members. This won’t only make them individually effective, but it will also help avoid role conflict and produce higher team productivity, cohesion and well-being.
Recommended re-onboarding activities: round-table discussions, on-the-job support, individual mentoring, shadow programs
2. Re-energizing and aligning teams
Re-onboarding, when done correctly, helps ensure that all employees have the skills and knowledge they need to remain productive and successful in their roles. It gives employees an opportunity to look for gaps in their own understanding and find ways to grow professionally. It also helps everyone stay up-to-date on changes to company policy, new technologies and evolving best practices in all departments.
Recommended re-onboarding activities: strategic planning, lunch and learns, cross-department collaborations
3. Building connections
Most importantly, re-onboarding is a level-setting opportunity to build connections between employees. All the issues we’ve mentioned above — lack of sync, ambiguity around roles and hierarchies, disconnect between values and actions, can often be cleared up by improving communication. An effective re-onboarding program will lead to better relationships between colleagues, which will drive productivity and employee satisfaction.
Recommended re-onboarding activities: team-building exercises, team-oriented competitions, social events
Re-Onboard for a Better 2023
Ultimately, onboarding your staff isn't a 'one and done' process. It's a continuous effort — something that should evolve alongside your business. If things have gotten out of sync for you or your staff, running a re-onboarding program in 2023 will help you start things off on the right foot, clear the air about lingering issues and build a more cohesive team as you charge into the new year.