Anton Cabral
An effective onboarding experience sets new employees up for success. But if it’s not backed up by ongoing effort, companies are either going to lose exceptional talent, or slow to a grinding halt. This is why re-onboarding is the essential next step for every purpose-driven business that doesn’t want to become victim to a blind spot…

Before there was Instagram, we enjoyed ‘Kodak moments’ – those magical moments worthy of a photograph. And we captured them on Kodak film, using Kodak cameras. Kodak was BIG: more than 145 000 global employees, a value of $31 billion at its peak, and more than two thirds of global market share. But in 2012, Kodak went bust. What went wrong?

It turns out that the threat to Kodak was not actually the external pressure of digitisation, but rather that there were people within the company who saw the iceberg on the horizon and failed to take action.

Forbes Magazine labelled the company as an organisation that ‘overflowed with complacency’: it had been engulfed by a culture that lacked diversity, with new ideas quashed by leadership that not only looked the same in terms of gender, race and age but lacked diversity of thought as well.

Is there an antidote to a similar fate?

Yes, particularly at a time where we have digital tools and mobile technology that can deliver communication and knowledge-sharing with the ease of a finger-tap.

Josh Bersin noted that “over time, if you look at all the businesses that thrive and compare them against those that fail, you find one thing in common: it is the agile companies that succeed.”

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” is how Peter Drucker summed up the power that employee attitudes have over the best laid business plans. Essentially, if the corporate culture does not align with the business purpose and does not nurture diversity of thought and actions in support of it, then even the strongest business will lack agility and struggle to float.

Maintaining an employee’s motivation to support the organisation’s vision is the key.

Re-use, re-engage, re-energise…re-onboard

If one looks at how organisations have adopted digital experience platforms (DXPs) to facilitate the onboarding of new hires, surely those same DXPs should be re-used to re-engage, re-energise and re-onboard existing employees as well?

Re-onboarding keeps corporate culture intense, alive, and aligned to the end-goals of a business. It strengthens a sense of purpose and allows employees to constantly add new skills to their professional arsenal.

Just as businesses undertake annual process compliance programmes, they can avert blind spots of ‘culture non-compliance’ by re-onboarding their existing workforce at least once a year as well.

The great thing about DXPs is that they can be repurposed quite quickly for re-onboarding through the curation of existing content. Digital community platforms that employ Facebook-like features such as newsfeeds, content-sharing and gamification with badges and leader boards provide an exciting and accessible way to create social cohesion amongst colleagues. They also create dynamic feedback loops to keep a company’s purpose alive.

Re-onboard to drive purpose

Businesses often lose their way when a) they either don’t have a defined purpose, or b) when they don’t communicate it.

Purpose is not about what a company does, but more so about why the work of the business matters. Increasingly, people want to be associated with a purpose that supports ethical business dealings and makes the world a better place.

Realising purpose requires the creation of a performance enabling environment that sets up processes, communication, strategies, technology, knowledge-sharing, skills development, and motivational leadership to make people feel good about the company they keep.

Regular re-onboarding arms a business with a culture of passionately nurtured shared values and provides a safe harbour for diversity and innovation. If employees aren’t empowered to share their innovative ideas – be it out of fear, self-doubt, or their perceived lowliness in the hierarchical pecking order – they’ll either leave or succumb to inertia and watch the ship sink.

That’s a Kodak moment no business can afford.