The coronavirus outbreak has had a huge impact on employment levels in the UK and is likely to do so for a long time. It is said that more than 8 million UK people are now on the Government’s furlough scheme, that is 1 in 4 workers. With the scheme now extended until October, furloughed employees may be feeling anxious about the uncertainty of their future.
Here are three ways we think employers can help support their furloughed workers through these difficult times:
Communication is key at the best of times, but even more so for furloughed staff during a crisis such as this. Everyone is feeling uncertain around their futures, so employees are likely to have a lot of questions. It is paramount that employers communicate with their workforce openly, honestly and in a timely manner. Be open and transparent about why the business needs to use the furlough scheme and the benefits it will hopefully have; this will help employees gain more of an understanding and perhaps feel more at ease. Touch base with your team on a regular basis and welcome any questions or concerns they may have. Remember that this is a stressful time for everyone, work aside; taking time to check in and make sure your staff are coping shows that you are thinking of them and that their well-being matters to you.
- Focus on training
Whilst employees can’t be working when furloughed, they can still take part in training during this period. Learning and development helps to keep the brain active, but can also give some focus to their time, which may otherwise be very unstructured. As we know, losing structure and routine can impact mental health, so anything that can bring this back into daily life is a benefit. Supply your staff with resources to keep them engaged, whether it’s as simple as free online resources, a self-help book or access to online e-learning programmes, there are plenty of options to help keep employees busy. Encourage this unexpected free time to be used for growth and to build skills – an opportunity that doesn’t come around very often among the busy lives we all tend to lead.
- Strengthen company culture
Although you may not all be in the office together, it is still vital to maintain and strengthen company culture. This will help to improve employee satisfaction, morale and motivation during these uncertain times. Use this time to strengthen relationships and trust. Make sure you involve furloughed staff in regular non-work related activities, whether it’s a virtual get together, quiz, or learning session. This will provide them with an opportunity to join in and still feel connected. It will keep that team spirit alive ready for when they can return to the office and we can all get back to “normal” – whatever that is going to look like!