With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting operations worldwide, many Australian organisations had to quickly, and dramatically, change the nature in which they did business. For many, this meant a shift to remote working, with large numbers of personnel having to make the adjustment to work from home.
With Australia now starting to see some stabilisation, businesses are looking to bring workers safely back to the physical workplace. But things have changed. There are new health and safety guidelines that must be followed to keep all stakeholders safe and protected, along with ensuring that staff feel protected and supported as they return to site.
Reboarding, the process of reintegrating staff back into the business environment after an extended period of absence, is now a more essential function than ever before.
Reboarding and COVID-19
While reboarding generally occurs after a leave of absence, be it for maternity leave, sick leave or perhaps returning to the company after leaving for a period of time, COVID-19 has changed the reboarding narrative.
Whereas previously, reboarding involved reiterating the company culture, existing Work Health & Safety (WHS) policies and bringing staff up to speed on new as well as existing policies and procedures, there are now a raft of new considerations for employers, including:
- What precautions can you take to minimise health and safety risks?
- How can you prioritise employees’ health and safety without compromising their privacy?
- How can you remain compliant with ever-changing guidelines, legislation and recommendations?
- How can you support employees’ mental and emotional health during this transition?
- How you best leverage technology to assist in the reboarding process?
Effective reboarding processes should re-familiarise workers with your company, bring them up to speed on any relevant changes, integrate them back into your workplace culture and empower them to get ‘back to business’ in the quickest time possible.
However, many organisations are finding that without the right systems in place, the reboarding journey is lacking in clarity and direction. Issues often arise when implementing a reboarding system when the following mistakes are made:
- Reliance upon manual and paper-based employee, volunteer and contractor reboarding processes
- Lack of visibility and reporting accountability around employee reboarding tasks and completion management
- Inconsistent compliance standards and processes between individual divisions, departments, or business units
- Limited reboarding visibility and progress management including completed tasks, outstanding items/actions, and upcoming due dates
- No centralised ability to manage, link and record employee or contractor corporate or compliance training with reboarding processes
- Limited ability to manage, share, and assign reboarding tasks that require multiple non-HR stakeholder input or involvement
By implementing a secure and scalable cloud-based, integrated ‘Software as a Service’ (SaaS) solution such as Pulse Software’s Onboarding, Induction & Engagement module, businesses can streamline their reboarding processes and support their staff as they enter the ‘new normal’.
Establishing the Foundations for Reboarding Success
A recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) into the impacts of COVID-19 showed that more than 1/3 of employers are facing difficulties with company culture, employee productivity and implementing leave regulations.
While every organisation is different and will require specific protocols to be implemented to suit their size, industry and employee-base, the following considerations will establish the foundations for reboarding success and mitigate the above challenges.
By engaging in the following activities, employers can ensure employees are inducted and aware of new policies and processes as well as crucial changes in the organisation.
Perform a Risk Assessment
All operating businesses are required by Safe Work Australia to perform a risk assessment to determine the ‘risks associated with exposure to COVID-19 and implement control measures to manage those risks. They must also assess any other new or changed risks arising from COVID-19, for example, customer aggression, high work demand or working in isolation.
Create a Return-to-Work Plan
A robust return-to-work plan should include all relevant health and safety requirements, including but not limited to:
- Social distancing requirements
- Hygiene and cleaning protocols as well as schedules
- The use of personal protective equipment (PPE) where required
- The role of supervisors and managers in ensuring protocols are carried out
Your return-to-work plan should be in an easy to read document, including FAQs. Ideally, this should be accompanied by various infographics and videos from executives highlighting the importance of following the return to work plan in keeping staff, clients, and other stakeholders safe and healthy. These documents can be housed in the Pulse Software’s Onboarding, Induction and Engagement Module to ensure everyone has access to them and that they can be updated, in real-time, as often as necessary. The online portal can also be utilised to communicate how the organisation has adapted and can provide a central system where your team can log suggestions and concerns.
Communicate with Conscience
The recent SHRM survey also highlighted current concerns in maintaining employee morale. Now, perhaps more than ever before, employees are looking to senior management for reassurance, support and leadership. Open, honest and regular communication that keeps staff in the loop is integral to keeping employee morale high. This should be done through a variety of channels, including emails, videos, and regularly updated memos and documents.
Pulse Software’s Onboarding, Induction and Engagement Module is designed to be an engagement tool as much as a portal. There is the opportunity to include videos, messages from key internal stakeholder and links to supporting documents.
Prioritise Health and Well-being
A recent study from Oracle and HR advisory Workplace Intelligence found that 70% of employees reported experiencing more stress and anxiety than in any previous year, with 78% overall reporting COVID-19 negatively impacted their mental health.
With most employees indicating that they believe employers should be doing more to support their mental health, companies need to prioritise and foster a culture of psychological safety.
Interestingly, the report showed 83% want this support via technology, making Pulse Software the ideal choice for companies wishing to increase resources and support for their employees’ mental health.
Organisations can utilise the portal to share information regarding various services, assistance programs and mental health resources available through the organisation to help them deal with stress, anxiety, depression and other concerns brought on by the coronavirus crisis.
The Pulse Software Solution
Pulse Software’s Onboarding, Induction & Engagement Module helps organisations deliver tailored and customisable corporate employee or contractor reboarding journeys to accelerate new hire engagement and employee time-to-productivity. It can simply and securely be leveraged to deliver a successful reboarding process, allowing for reboarding efficacy through integrated and automated portal tasks, actions, and form management.
To learn more about creating a reboarding strategy to support your team, you can download our Onboarding, Reboarding and COVID-19 E-Book.