Staff re-on-boarding; a strategy for effective return-to- work in the midst of covid-19

Tom Kamaliki | 8th June 2020

Staff re-on-boarding; a strategy for effective return-to- work in the midst of covid-19

Staff re-on-boarding; a strategy for effective return-to- work in the midst of covid-19

Tom Kamaliki | 8th June 2020


I vividly remember one time in early 80’s during my late teens when a certain old man arrived back in the village after staying in Mombasa since late 50’s, when his last born was hardly a year old. First, the old man alighted in a wrong stage, 6 kilometres away. He had to board another vehicle. Reaching his point of destiny, still he could not trace the route to his home. He had to keep on asking.


Once he was shown the compound he was looking for, the other thorny issue was, to locate his house because the grass-thatched one he left behind was nowhere. He could only see semi-permanent houses which included that of his first-born son. None of his children could recall him. He did not have anything apart from a miserable handbag with a few personal effects. He was a total stranger to his family and the entire set up. He therefore had to undergo a re-orientation program to fit in his own family which was used to a life without a husband and a father.


The village and its inhabitants were new to him too, forcing him to learn many things once gain. Thanks to his wife who warmly received him and took the initiative to re-induct him in the village and among relatives, just to mainstream him in the system that was totally new to him.


This old man’s situation is similar to what our staff will experience once office operations resume for those countries that closed company operations when COVID-19 struck. It will be a New Normal that staff have no option but to cope and live with. This requires all HR leads to start developing comprehensive re-on-boarding programs that will mainstream staff in the New Normal once they resume. The company culture and office operations are no-longer going to be the same. Tensions and uneasiness will dominate the air for a certain period.


I had never pictured a situation where all my colleagues’ faces are covered with masks as we interact along the corridors and offices. No greetings and hugging that characterized teamwork. The good jokes we used to share in those spacious kitchens as we warmed our packed lunches in the microwaves seem to have gone because we must keep distance with masks on our faces. The close-to-each-other workstations in the open-plan systems will need to be re-worked due social distance, hence disrupting neighbourhoods. Company policies will be reviewed. I see a situation where failure to put on a face mask will be a clause in the Hire Manual as a serious offense that will attract serious penalties.

Surely, a painful change.

The writer is a HR Generalist at Director Level with Consulting skills with having over 10 years in Senior Management.

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