We recently hosted a virtual roundtable in partnership with Actimo on ‘Welcome (Back): Aligning Reboarding, Onboarding and Training to the New Cultural Norms’ which looked at the way in which organisations are handling the reboarding, onboarding and training in the ‘new normal’ that we are operating in.
The conversation was insightful and engaging with a variety of opinions and experiences from our attendees who were an incredible group of senior HR leaders who have been tackling some of the most complex problems over the last few months around how to handle the return to work, the ‘new normal’, reboarding and much more.
By way of introduction, our hosts and attendees looked at what they had experienced over the past few months when leading people during a crisis. Given the nature of the environment that we are working in at the moment, there were a wide variety of issues organisations were faced with and tackling, the majority of which are people-driven. The conversation considered the UK market and furlough scheme and how everyone can best manage their workforce to allow them to continue thriving successfully whilst also managing people’s mental wellbeing.
The key takeaways from the conversation appear below.
Actions speak louder than words and reboarding is no exception.
There are many issues that businesses are facing at the moment, the majority of which are new problems which are being tackled on the job, with no silver bullet that will work for everyone.
Organisations as a whole have managed the pandemic in quite a reactionary manner, as it couldn’t be anticipated, but now they need to be looking at how to successfully reboard and reunite workforces that have divided over the past 6 months. Most organisations are taking a slow, phased, adaptable and agile approach to reintroducing people to the workforce, as well as for the return to the office. Attendees agreed that this was the best approach to allow people to feel more comfortable about the security of their roles and the office space as a whole.
A number of attendees agreed that a trend has emerged for business leaders saying one thing, but implementing another, for example saying you don’t have to come into the office to be working and that presenteeism is dead but still expecting their people to be at their desks (preferably) in office for set times. Given the nature of the situation, this means that there are a number of organisations with employees that are working in a remit of fear, as they don’t believe that their role is secure. To counter this, organisations and, more importantly, their leaders need to practice what they preach, removing the stigma that is attached to remote working (even after most of us have been doing it for months).
You need to manage and engage your workforce in the ‘new normal’ differently
Managers are leading an entirely different workforce to the one that they started the year with. Many are working with displaced teams, reboarding team members that have been furloughed and trying to bridge a skills, culture and attitude divide between those that have worked throughout the crisis and those that have been furloughed. The general consensus on how to keep these varying groups engaged and keep them feeling secure was over communication. Communicating everything clearly and regularly is integral to helping your people understand what is happening and why, whilst also supporting their mental health so that they feel supported and secure.
Engaging your employees during this period is difficult and requires entirely different tactics to what we would use normally.
Although technology has been integral to allowing us to continue to work in a productive manner during the pandemic, it does have it’s flaws and organisations need to remember that it cannot permanently replace some face-to-face interaction. Video fatigue is real and organisations and their leaders need to bear this in mind when working out how to engage their remote employees.
Re-skilling to bridge the growing skills gap is the way forward
Not only do the employees that are re-entering the workforce need re-skilling in their roles and the aspects of that which have changed, but management also need coaching to develop skills on how to deal with people who are behaving, reacting and working in a different manner to normal. This is integral to allowing people to feel supported.
Attendees agreed that when dealing with reboarding employees, we need to acknowledge that those returning will not be coming back with full force, operating at their 'normal level' straight away. It’s going to take some time to build back up to that, and in a number of cases, their workload won’t be the same at all, meaning that the continual development of these employees could make all the difference in helping people back into work and in keeping them engaged.
Mental wellbeing must take precedent over all else
Last but most definitely not least, was the role mental health and wellbeing are playing in this crisis and the way in which people are working. There is an enormous sense of unease and anxiety for many around either returning to work, or the changing landscape of work and organisations and their leaders need to make people feel as at ease as possible, therefore bring employee wellbeing to a new level of prominence than it has been before.
During this time, managers have really stepped up to meet this requirement as best they can, but business leaders are only human, we need to emphasise this, as they are being used increasingly as a crutch for the rest of their teams, and sometimes the wider organisation, during these difficult times.
Taking the above into account it was agreed that re-skilling is going to be the biggest driver behind getting organisations and their people back on track, particularly when it comes to re-boarding employees. Furthermore, leaders and the role they have, and are still playing cannot be overlooked and it is essential that they adapt their leadership to the ‘new normal’, following what they say up with the associated actions. In conclusion, attendees agreed that we need to make as much progress as possible towards destigmatising mental health and bringing the mental health and wellbeing agenda to the forefront of the way we work, particularly in businesses post-COVID. The focus on this cannot be just a moment, it needs to drive a permanent change in the way businesses operate.
Actimo is the number 1 internal communications platform to engage with your employees, improve behaviour and track performance. Since it was founded, Actimo has been on a mission to help companies connect with their mobile-first employees successfully.