Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees have been out of the workplace for a number of months, either working remote, or on reduced hours or furlough. As workplaces begin to open up, organizations need to consider how to effectively bring back employees. While surveys such as Culture Amp’s Prepare for Returning to the Workplace survey helps guide organizations on employees’ concerns and where support might be needed, the COVID-19 Re-onboarding template helps ensure the experience of those returning to the workplace is successful.
This template is designed to meet an immediate need post COVID-19 and beyond. However, the template is also valuable to support employees returning from long term sick, maternity leave or other periods of absence from the workplace.
Why collect employee feedback during re-onboarding?
There are well-documented reasons to gather onboarding feedback from employees, most notably to increase an employee’s lifetime value (ELTV) and to identify gaps on what you might need to change in your process. The same principles can be applied to the re-onboarding of employees as well.
The concept of re-onboarding is more typically applied to those returning from maternity leave, or long term sick leave, and is a process designed to help employees re-engage with their teams, educate them on any changed working practices and set them up for success in their roles. The same process can therefore be applied to those returning from furlough or time out of the workplace. Employees cannot be expected to just pick up where they left off and so re-onboarding them back into the organization is crucial.
Our team of People Scientists developed the template, drawing on experience and learnings from the Prepare for Returning to the Workplace surveys as well as Culture Amp’s Onboarding surveys.
The survey consists of 20+ questions on the following topics:
- Overall Re-onboarding experience
- My Manager (including communication and 1:1’s)
- My Team
- My Role (including productivity and organizational alignment)
- Health & Safety
These areas will have the most impact on the successful re-onboarding of employees, and like all Culture Amp templates, organizations can add additional items relevant to their employee population and unique context.
The Overall Re-onboarding experience index
The Re-onboarding survey is anchored in an overall outcome index: the Overall Re-onboarding experience. The benefit of having an outcome measure is so organizations can leverage impact analysis to determine which items are most important and where action should be focused.
In the case of covid re-onboarding, it’s likely that this won’t be a continuous stream of employees re-onboarding (as there is for onboarding), so determining the highest impact questions is less relevant. However, for organization’s that have employees returning in cohorts, or for those that plan on using the Re-onboarding survey for future situations, it can be helpful to know which items are the strongest drivers of the overall re-onboarding experience. The overall Re-onboarding experience index can provide organizations with insight into the general experience of employees and whether they felt involved and supported in their return.
When should I use the COVID-19 Re-onboarding survey?
The re-onboarding template is designed to be implemented soon after employees have returned. This is unique from Culture Amp’s typical onboarding templates, which are designed to be rolled out either at a single point (30 days after joining) or a phased approach (at weeks 1 and 5). We recommend launching the survey to employees one week after they have returned to the workplace. This is so any issues or problems can be addressed quickly, and if an organization has employees returning in cohorts, learnings can be addressed and processes adapted.
What if employees are returning to new or different roles?
We expect that for many employees, their role (or even the company) may not look the same as before they left. Because of this, it’s really important that employees understand any changes in responsibility, are aware of new processes, and have had opportunities to be re-trained if necessary. There are several questions in the survey that speak to this, and these items can be adapted depending on your unique needs and situation. For example;
- I have had training on [new process / system applicable to my role]
- I am confident using [the new processes / systems I need in my role]
- I have a good idea about what is expected of me in my role
Should I update the questions to make them relevant to particular roles?
In the items above, you’re able to customize with your own organizational processes or systems and these can be tailored for different employee populations. For example;
"I have had training on [new process / system applicable to my role]" can be updated to: "I have had training on Salesforce"
When updating items such as this, consider whether the question will be relevant to the entire employee population or specific to roles or departments. If the item only needs to be asked to certain employees, Demographic branching makes this possible. But avoid getting too granular as it’s important to still have meaningful and actionable data that can be compared across roles.
Should I use the Prepare for Returning to the Workplace survey AND the Re-onboarding survey?
Yes, absolutely! The Prepare for Returning to the Workplace survey can help you understand how your people are feeling, what concerns they may have about returning to the workplace, and help guide what an effective return plan might look like. The Prepare for Returning to the Workplace survey is designed to be used before employees return. The Re-onboarding template can then be used post-return to help to gather feedback on how that return plan went.
For example, pre-return you may want to find out how your manager population is feeling and if they are feeling equipped to support the return of their direct reports. Items such as ‘I am confident I can support my direct report(s) in a successful transition back to the workplace’ and ‘I have been informed on the health and safety precautions my direct report(s) will need to follow’ can help determine if managers need further guidance or support. The re-onboarding survey is a great place to check in on how employees felt on these aspects, for example ‘My manager made contact with me before my transition back to the workplace’ and ‘My manager [or someone else] explained what health and safety precautions I need to follow.’
As always, Culture Amp’s guidance is only to survey as frequently as you are able to take action, so consider which surveys and type of feedback will be most valuable to you and your organization.