As organisations around the world start to make plans to bring their people back to work, we spent some time with one of our founders Chris, who answered our questions about 're-boarding'.
A8: Thanks for your time today Chris. First of all, we've heard 're-boarding' alot recently. What does it actually mean?
CS: We are all familiar with onboarding or induction. Re-boarding is the process of bringing people back into a workplace after a long break. People across the world are displaced at the moment. Maybe not geographically, but mentally. Our routines have gone, evolved and changed. As we return to work you are going to need a specialist response for your people. As much as we might think it can be business as usual, re-boarding is a simple way to bring people back to work in an inclusive way - setting those people up to thrive rather than struggle.
A8: That's interesting. So what should you consider when putting a re-boarding experience together?
CS: Looking at it through the lens of the participant or the 're-boarder' is vital, just as it is for any people experience. It doesn't matter if it is face to face or in a digital format - if you don't give people what they need in a way they need it delivered, it will never have the results you crave. There are some key questions I would want the answer to before putting anything on paper...
How have people experienced furlough, working from home? What worked well for them, what hindered their performance. Which bits would they like to keep?
How do people feel about online? If it's a negative view, what can be done to support the use of digital in the future, what would make it more human?
What's changed in the organisation? Are strategies and priorities still the same? How do the values measure up for the new world? Did the values stay alive during lockdown?
What challenges do people still have? Schools still closed, essential workers in the family, sick family members - what additional layers of support will be available?
What are people worried about? It might be job security, rumours, job losses - all can have a devastating impact on personal mental health.
In short, I'd really want to get under the skin of the organisation so the re-boarding experience hits the mark when people return to work or to the office.
A8: So once you have all that, what does re-boarding actually look like?
CS: It can take many forms and I don't think there is standard approach for everyone. There are always elements that will be the same, but different organisations will need slightly different approaches for their people. You've got a gorgeous selection of tools that you can use:
Internal Communication - has it been good through the crisis? Now is the time to step it up. A positive tone is needed as well as honesty - there is no point hiding a tough message... that just creates a bigger shock
Online training - how many of your people need some form of compliance? For examples, many cabin crew who return from furlough will be 'out of check' so will have regain competence before flying again. How will the organisation manage that when it is often a 12 month programme? Can that go online to make the programme more effective in a short space of time?
Workshops/Roadshows - just like induction, the face to face experience does wonders for building engagement and trust. Your people need to trust you more than ever before. Where face to face isn't possible, you need a really engaging online event - maybe an interactive game or generally anything that isn't over the top powerpoint and a dull facilitator.
Genuine Open Forum - allow your people the chance to engage with each other and be honest about their feelings
Clear strategy - knowing where you are going means everyone is clear on their role in that, meaning you are more likely to achieve it.
New skills training - what new skills do people need to learn? Your managers might need more people skills or a better understanding of remote working. You could be in hospitality and have a whole new cleaning regime to master, or a new way of connecting with your customers and guests in bars and restaurants. Are your service recovery techniques up to date and how will you train them?
I know a brilliant learning consultancy that can help with all of that (laughs).
A8: You mentioned people experience furlough and lockdown differently. How has it been for you?
CS: Everyone that knows me, knows that I have hated it. I love people around me, I love collaborating, I love filling a flip chart with ideas. I love going to work! Not going has been really difficult. My mum has been in hospital since February after some life changing surgery and is still there. She's recovering slowly - testing positive for Covid was an enormous setback. She's doing much better now though. Hopefully she will get a negative test soon and be able to move to the next stage in her recovery plan.
I've been extremely fortunate. I've been with David and Bo and we live by the sea, so more recently we have been able to take some lovely distanced walks along the beach - so on reflection it could have been much worse. I know there are people who haven't had that luxury. It's been hard on the team too but they have risen to the challenge majestically and I really can't heap enough praise on them.
We've also managed to move into a new HQ during lockdown too - who knew that would be such a challenge. It's odd to be in an office that none of the team have been able to use yet! Now it's onwards and upwards and it's time for us to help our clients to re-board their people brilliantly. And it's probably time to shave...
A8: Thanks for your time today Chris.