10 Ideas for Re-Onboarding Your Workforce

by Jan 4, 2022

Well, we made it through 2021! On to 2022, and the chance to bring your employees back to the workplace.

Every organization’s return to work path is unique. Some organizations did not go remote, some went fully remote and plan to stay that way, and others are currently looking to bring their workforce back to the office. 

One of our clients will be moving to a hybrid work environment this coming January. As their keen and clever culture experts, we brainstormed some ways they can welcome employees back to the office throughout the first week (or even month), and we’re sharing it with you. Remember onboarding is more than just one day! 

The key is to treat your return to work as if you’re re-onboarding employees – because that’s what you’re doing. You’re bringing employees back into a culture that was disrupted, and likely left your workforce feeling isolated. 

And, you may have employees who joined your team remotely and will need to figure out how things are done around the worksite. They definitely need some true onboarding, especially if they’ve never met their coworkers in person. 

Get your entire workforce – from newbies to veterans – excited about returning to work by: 

  1. Asking the CEO to write a personalized welcome back email to the entire workforce (even better if it’s a video). There’s nothing like having the head of the company take time out of their day to share a positive message.  
  2. Asking the leadership team to handwrite thank you notes to all of their staff. It’s been a challenging two years and you’d be surprised how far a small thank you can go. 
  3. Making the first day back a celebration. Decorate the office with banners, streamers, balloons, and anything else that screams FUN. Then host lunch, happy hour, or some other sort of group activity to bring everyone back together.
  4. Conducting some ice breaker activities, to get everyone reacquainted and get newbies up to speed. 
  5. Catering lunch for the first week, so employees don’t have to worry about bringing lunch or finding a place to eat. 
  6. Creating opportunities for employees to connect. For example, host a lunch n learn, conduct an all-staff meeting, or encourage managers to meet with their team one-on-one throughout the week.  
  7. Asking employees take a “First Day of School” photo and posting them for everyone to see. Bonus points if you post the pictures on social media as a part of your employer branding strategy.  
  8. Establishing a new workweek tradition such as Bagel Mondays or Coffee Fridays. Involving employees in the decision making will increase their loyalty to your business a little, and so will the tradition itself.
  9. Hosting a friendly competition. Some examples include a desk makeover competition, a scavenger hunt around the office to get people reacquainted with the space, and employee bingo (each square has a fun fact about an employee, so to get bingo they have to learn about each other).
  10. Purchasing custom gifts for everyone. Depending on the gift you could send it prior to the first day (e.g., a custom coffee tumbler for the commute) or leave it on their desk for when they come in. The more creative the better! 

The last and perhaps most important step is to conduct a climate assessment so you have some data about how employees are feeling about the current organizational culture, coming back to work, and more. Include some questions around internal communication, engagement, job satisfaction, and return to work. 

The data will help you create a strategy for re-building and maintaining a positive workplace culture.

Let us know if you’d like some help with your survey.


Rebecca, and The Civility Partners Team 

About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

Culture Forward Webinar Series 2022

At Civility Partners we eat, sleep and breathe company culture (it’s dramatic, but true). A positive work environment has endless benefits for employees, the organization, and even the community. We believe in making a respectful work culture a possibility for...

5 Dimensions of Company Culture

Company culture is like a flower garden. When you invest time and energy into nurturing the seeds, you’re bound to create a place where beautiful flowers will grow and thrive.  You can also plant seeds and leave them to their own devices. You may grow some flowers,...

BIFF at Work – The email method and the book

From our episode “BIFF at Work - The email method and the book” with Bill Eddy “Why can't we just act like adults? I always think that adults aren't really great at conflict; we're not all that mature in dealing with our conflict. There would not be war, politicians,...

Five More Tips for Creating Psychological Safety In Training Programs (and everywhere, really)

Last month, we offered three tips for creating psychological safety in your training programs.  To recap, psychological safety is feeling comfortable to ask questions, contribute ideas, voice opinions, challenge the material being offered, and be your true self...

Uncovering Unconscious Bias in Recruiting and Interviewing

Based on our episode, “Uncovering Unconscious Bias in Recruiting and Interviewing” with Dr. Tana M Session   Most of the time credibility is being questioned in a team meeting, leading a project, and our recommendations having to prove above and beyond our areas...

5 tips to support your employees WHY

These past two and a half years have shown us COVID-19, the Great Resignation, devastating wildfires, and more. Employees have experienced an awakening. According to McKinsey & Company, nearly two-thirds of US-based employees say that COVID-19 has caused them to...

Taking Off the Training Wheels: How to go from bystander to upstander

What is courage? Many would say it’s strength…perhaps even fearlessness. But the true definition contains a few key components. Courage is taking action despite the presence of fear.  Imagine a young boy learning how to ride a bike. He’s only ever ridden one with...

Are you factoring your workplace into well-being initiatives?

Mental health and wellbeing is top of mind for employees and employers across the globe. You know this.  What you may not know is that you could be tackling burnout from the wrong angles.  According to McKinsey Health Institute, while many employers are offering a...

6 Embarrassing Cultural Diversity Faux Pas

Cultural diversity is an important aspect of the modern workplace. A wide range of voices is needed to ensure your organization is accepting and flexible enough to hold a wide array of views and opinions. Growth cannot come from homogeneous thinking, after all....

Is Your Recognition as Impactful as it Could Be?

Recently, I was reviewing survey data from a client we are working with who specifically asked an open-ended question around recognition. Employee’s responses were eye opening. I found that while some were seeking monetary recognition, like bonuses, raises, etc., many...