Support Furloughed Employees Returning to the Workplace
In March 2020, when the pandemic caused national lockdown – schools, retail, hospitality, and offices were all forced to shut. This had a huge impact on thousands of businesses and employees who suddenly were asked to collect their computers and work from home for the near future. It was a daunting time of uncertainty.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the Government announced support for businesses that were forced to shut and introduced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This essentially meant companies could get financial support from the Government to help pay the wages of employees who were put on furlough due to the pandemic. Employees would receive 80% of their monthly salary, up to £2,500 a month whilst they ceased work.
There were many reasons as to why people were put on furlough. These included:
- Their work could not be done from home (such as retail).
- The company or organisation has been required to be temporarily closed (such as hospitality).
- Individuals have been unable to attend work for health-related reasons (particularly those required to ‘shield’).
For some, furlough was a great help. With the schools and nurseries closing to all but children of ‘key-workers’, many parents now had no childcare. Further pressures of home-schooling required many parents to have to support their children with learning.
Furlough helped to alleviate some of the stress this may have caused. However, it also had negative implications for many people. Furlough increased isolation, and disrupted people’s daily routine. In some cases, it also added increased financial stress.
Many were happy to hear the government’s announcement that employees can begin to return to the office. But for some, the prospect of returning to work after a long leave can cause extreme anxiety. It’s important for employers to recognise how to best support furloughed employees as they return to the workplace.
Supporting Furloughed Employees Returning to the Workplace
There are quite a few steps that organisations can take to support furloughed employees in their return. These steps can help employees feel comfortable and at ease.
Firstly, it is important to give people notice about their return. This allows employees to plan ahead and make the necessary arrangements. It also offers enough time to ask questions and raise any concerns.
Communication should be 2-way. It is important for businesses to ask for this feedback so that they can take any thoughts and feelings into consideration. This can help employees feel supported and listened to, easing any worries they might have.
The amount of time that people have been on furlough is massively varied. For some it was a few months, for others, it has been over a year. It is therefore hugely important to provide employees with a reinduction to remind them of policies, note any changes, and identify any training required. This will give employees time to ‘bed’ back in and feel reassured that they can do their jobs.
Like a reinduction, it is important to take time to update employees on any business updates. These may include:
- Changes in structure
- Personnel updates
- New processes
- Any COVID measures in place
Explain the impact that the pandemic has had on the business and its customers. Open and honest dialogue can help promote a transparent workplace. In turn, this helps empower employees.
Mental Health and Wellbeing
The impact of the pandemic and furlough will be different for everybody. It is hugely important that organisations recognise this and provide support for all employees as they return to work. Employees might be facing;
- Health anxiety
- Social anxiety
- Financial strains/stress
It will be crucial to provide support for employees and promote the support channels around them. Make sure they know what resources they have access to – mental health support, financial support and so on.
Communication with employees will be important to ensure they feel comfortable with what is expected of them. Equally important is providing employees with feedback channels.
Employers may also want to consider providing their employees with easy access to resources to support them during this time. The hug platform offers users access to hundreds of resource materials to support their overall wellbeing.
Interested in learning how hug can help you support furloughed employees returning to the workplace? Please book your complimentary demo by clicking here today.