How to Optimize the Onboarding of New Employees as We Return to Work

By Michael Klazema on 9/2/2020

Employers are at a crossroads in their journey through the COVID-19 pandemic. They have had a whirlwind of a year, from adjusting to work-from-home structures to dealing with the impact of the coronavirus on their business traffic, safety policies, revenue, and more. Many employers have had to make difficult decisions about costs and staffing, including furloughing or laying off employees—or eliminating certain positions for good. Most of those things happened in just two or three months, starting in mid-March when the United States coronavirus outbreak began.

Now, even though COVID-19 is still an issue, the economy has largely stabilized, and many industries are running at a steady pace. As employers consider restarting their hiring and rehiring furloughed employees, here are a few factors that they should keep in mind to ensure the best outcome possible.

  • Analyze your business

Just because the economy has bounced back from the shutdown days of March and April does not mean that the pandemic is over—and not all businesses are ready to rehire. To determine where your organization stands, consider your finances, efficiencies, and ability to continue operating with a skeleton crew.

Consider the cost-benefit analysis of onboarding additional employees. Those considerations are essential right now based on the possibility of further lockdowns or unexpected new restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus. If your business can get by without rehiring, your best bet may be to see what the next few months bring.

  • Vet and onboard your furloughed employees as if they were new hires

Your first step in re-staffing your business will likely be to rehire any workers that you had laid off or furloughed. This strategy is sound because it bypasses the costly and time-consuming process of recruiting and interviewing. However, you should consider vetting and onboarding your rehires as if they were new hires.

Most businesses were hit hard by the pandemic and don’t have “disposable revenue” to spare. If you are going to rehire someone and shoulder the costs of their salary, benefits, and employment, you need to know that you aren’t spending recklessly.

First, take the opportunity to update employee background checks for those workers. This step is critical because the skills and responsibilities of many jobs have changed. Some roles have been consolidated, which might mean that a furloughed worker will be taking on new responsibilities when they come back. Making sure that they are qualified for those capacities—and training them as part of the onboarding process—is crucial for success.

Second, if you are still operating remotely, make that factor a central part of your onboarding strategy. Remote work involves skills and qualities that aren’t as crucial for an in-office job. You need a self-starter who can function well without much supervision or hands-on management, and someone who communicates well via digital means and will be responsive to email, phone calls, Zoom meetings, and other remote communications. You also need someone who understands the technology platforms and security protocols that remote work has added to the equation.

Onboarding can help you train and familiarize both new hires and rehires.

  • Think about space

If your business is working in an office environment again, then you likely already have policies in place for temperature and health checks, regular cleaning, social distancing, masking, and more. If you are going to onboard or re-acclimate new workers, you need to think about how those hires will affect your space and capacity. Figuring out workspaces in the office is not as simple as it used to be, and if you want to maintain an in-person workplace, you need to think about how each hire or rehire will affect the equation.

These strategies—along with remote interviews, close communications with candidates throughout the hiring process, and thorough, reliable employee background checks—can help give your business an effective and stable workforce during this uncertain time. At, we can help you design a background check protocol that makes sense for your redesigned hiring process. Contact us today to get started.



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