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Ask the Expert: Re-Onboarding Employees

Toby Graham /

If we haven’t had an onboarding process for our employees until this point, do we need to go back and “re-onboard” people?

If your organization doesn’t have a standard onboarding process in place, you’re not alone. By some estimates, over a third (37%) of companies lack structured onboarding procedures. And a Gallup poll found that only 12% of employees think their employers do onboarding well.

That said, this is an area of workforce management you can’t afford to ignore.

Onboarding isn’t just about helping new hires feel acclimated and optimizing time-to-productivity (although those are certainly important factors to consider). At a very basic level, it’s about ensuring you and your new employees complete your legally required paperwork.

Whatever your onboarding process does or doesn’t look like, you need to have certain documents filled out and ready to show to an inspector in the event that a regulatory entity comes knocking.

If you have any employees who didn’t undergo a standard onboarding process, perform an audit of those personnel files to make sure you have all legally required documents in order. Look for any misses or mistakes, and correct them immediately. Better you find issues now than let a regulator discover them for you later.

Next, consider establishing a process—something repeatable and ongoing—for policy review, training, attestation, and other new hire concerns. This will not only help you ensure compliance, but also promote overall employee engagement and retention.

Keep in mind that many people quit within their first few months on the job. You can avoid turnover by supporting, training, and communicating with new hires regularly throughout that period, rather than leaving them to their own devices after a week or two. SHRM recommends engaging new employees with one-on-one check-ins at the first 30, 60, and 90 days.

Onboarding builds the foundation of employment, but you have to continue to do the housework after it’s built. You need to continue to provide training to your employees annually, as well as when any new policies, technologies, or regulations are introduced into the workplace. If you don’t have a process in place, and your annual attestations for training or forms are going out, just make sure any new employees get in in that next annual cycle—and then complete required training on their anniversary of hire, or within your organization’s annual training cadence.

In brief: No, you don’t have to go back and re-onboard people.

But you do need to make sure your files are complete and that, moving forward, you have the right steps to provide defensible proof of compliance. While you’re at it, you might want to optimize your onboarding procedures for employee engagement and retention. After all, with the right approach and tools, you don’t have to choose between productivity and compliance.

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