Talent Development

Onboarding new staff or reboarding? How technology can help with the heavy lifting

Onboarding new staff

A brilliant onboarding experience for new staff is vital for engaging employees and avoiding early losses or even worse – loss before employment has even started. 

But it is just as important to reboard people, as they return to work and into organisations and workplaces that may be totally different to the ones they left over a year ago. We explore the challenge and look at how technology can support this process.

Onboarding - how has it changed?

Organisations and the ways in which they onboard their staff have changed. In the last 18 months we’ve lived through rapid digital transformation that has taken place as a result of the pandemic and multiple lockdowns. Companies have been pivoting to stay afloat. Changing business model, reducing reliance on face-to-face interactions, trying to build teams, develop and maintain their company culture and grow the business, all whilst most of their people have been sitting behind screens at their kitchen tables.

Where new staff have been taken on remotely, onboarding has also taken place remotely. The experience of meeting new team members and bonding over a trip to the pub or at a team social has become a distant memory.

The impact of this enforced homeworking has had well documented physical, social and psychological impact on our motivation, productivity and physical and mental health. For those placed on furlough the cost has arguably been even higher. Not allowed to work, on reduced pay with no guarantee of a return date. During this period many organisations acknowledged the impact and supported their staff with resources to help manage remote working practices and build mental resilience.

Now all that is about to change. All legal lockdown restrictions have been lifted  and furlough ends in September. This means people will be returning to the workplace – probably as part of a hybrid working arrangement and many others will also be returning to work, having not worked for months.

Both of these situations require planning, resourcing and managing to be sure of a happy result – productive, positive, engaged and motivated employees. In short, employee experience (EX) is back at the top of the agenda for HR and People professionals, with 92% saying that it is their main focus for 2021. You can learn more about how to improve EX by reading our recent blog, seven ways to improve employee experience.

Reboarding and onboarding staff – leaders need help too

It’s not just the staff that need support. This is a situation previously unnavigated and it’s likely that managers and senior leaders will have no experience of supporting their teams through what is in effect, yet another transformation.

How will they manage the transition? How will they reassure their people and avoid costly resignations and skills loss? What resources are available to help? When should reboarding start for best results? And what technology is available that can help with the heavy lifting, at a time when budgets and people are over stretched?

To understand the challenge ahead and get the answers to some of these questions we turn to what we know about traditional employee onboarding.

Reboarding employees: what can we learn from onboarding research stats?

  • Good employee onboarding can improve employee retention by 82% and productivity by 70% (research by Glassdoor), the moment there are skills gaps in organisation. There are many job openings and people have a wide choice when it come to where they want to work. As a result, finding ways to avoid the Great Resignation is high on employers' priority lists.
  • There is room for onboarding improvement for most companies. Gallup found that only 12% of employees strongly agree that their organisation does a good job of onboarding. That means a staggering 88% of people don’t believe this is the case.
  • According to HCI most organisations only focus on 1 week of onboarding. The best onboarding programmes last for the first 90 days of a new employee’s tenure. And may even last for a full year to ensure they are fully supported as they ramp up to full productivity. More is most definitely better.
  • A negative onboarding experience results in new hire being 2 x more likely to look for other opportunities. Given that the average time it takes to hire a new employee is 3 months at a cost of 1.5 x their annual salary, losing an employee due to poor onboarding has the bigger costs of loss of productivity and morale alongside the overt costs of recruitment and time to interview.
  • 81% of organisations believe that cross boarding is just as important as new hire onboarding. HCI reports this. Only 27% of organisations effectively onboard employees that are promoted or moved to a new position.
  • Biggest onboarding challenge is inconsistent application, competing priorities, ability to measure ROI, buy-in, manager accountability and insufficient internal resources, are the top onboarding challenges reported by HCI. A good technology platform can help overcome these challenges to reduce manual tasks, automate reminders and to ensure a consistent approach.

What does this mean for reboarding and onboarding programmes? There’s plenty of scope for improvement!

Onboarding new staff, reboarding existing: how technology helps

Onboarding and reboarding staff using spreadsheets and to do lists is sadly commonplace but does nothing to provide a positive employee experience with high levels of engagement or excitement. In addition, manual onboarding is resource hungry at a time when teams are stretched with competing priorities.

However, technology can help with much of the heavy lifting associated with onboarding – and for times when access to core IT systems is limited (e.g. during the all-important pre-hire phase).

5app provides an agile and engaging experience, bringing together the most useful resources for someone before or after they start a new role, as well as for when they need to get up to speed with organisational objectives, communications and change programmes that may have been instigated during their furlough.

For those returning to a physical workplace for the first time – either full-time or using a hybrid model, 5app provides a centralised place from which to share resources to manage the practical arrangements and to connect, or reconnect with the organisation. Understanding whether resources have been engaged with is easy to monitor by team and individual through comprehensive analytics, so you can see the effectiveness of communications and tailor future strategy accordingly.

Playlists of curated resources aimed at managers and leaders overseeing the onboarding and reboarding process provide guidance around procedures, how to help reassure new and existing returners to work and make the process as smooth and anxiety-free as possible.

Create content using flexible content options; from existing content, learning library content or self-generated videos and upload them in a matter of seconds.

Onboarding and reboarding using 5app – first impressions count

Using a learning and communications platform, like 5app, for onboarding new employees or reboarding existing staff in the most productive and impactful way sets the tone for an employee’s experience with you as an employer. Get it right and you’ll have a happy and motivated member of the team from day one and a management team that feels supported throughout.


Onboarding is an accepted part of the recruitment, retention and engagement of new employees. The past 18 months have caused changes to employees' circumstances, working environments and job prospects that no one could have anticipated. Now companies need to successfully reboard their employees to retain the skills and knowledge they have invested in them. The ROI from this activity is high. 5app provides a consistent, easy-to-use solution to support your leaders and employees through a successful transition back to the workplace.

Use a learning platform that supports your new ways of working and make it easy to onboard new staff and reboard those returning to work.  5app can support your L&D strategy, create a learning culture, and aligning learning with the business needs and objectives.

Get in touch to find out more.

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