In these unprecedented times, it’s estimated that a quarter of the UK workforce, around 7.5 million people, have been furloughed.
This is a word that most HR managers thought they would never have to use, let alone administer the government’s job retention scheme for as many as 100% of their employees who have been given temporary leave of absence to avoid redundancies or business closures.
The scheme will continue in some form until October. So it’s a sound investment to keep in touch while your staff are off and take active steps to encourage them to take good care of their physical and mental well-being.
As Mental Health UK points out each employee is different and furloughed workers will face both shared and unique challenges. Some will welcome time at home to take care of their children. Some will enjoy having extended time away from the workplace. Some will find their situation more difficult to cope with, especially if they live alone or are struggling with a loss of a sense of routine, purpose and self-belief.
What steps can you take to positively impact the well-being of your furloughed employees?
#1 Stay connected
Use richer technology like video conferencing app Zoom to keep connected either one-to-one or as a team to replicate the face-to-face contact that comes with everyday office life. Scheduling check ins will give you a chance to talk through any concerns or anxieties that your employees have about the security of their jobs, their value to the business and any challenges and difficulties they are experiencing.
- Create a resources hub – be sure to share information about the resources available to help your employees take better care of their well-being through your benefits programme and charities and other organisations. Centralising information and using the communications tool in an employee benefits platform will also be a big here to keep everyone connected and up to date with personalised information.
#2 Encourage digital upskilling
Furloughed workers have been offered an opportunity to sign up for free online courses in digital skills. As the BBC reported, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has urged furloughed employees to: “improve their knowledge, build their confidence and support their mental health so they have the skills they need to succeed after the Coronavirus outbreak”. The Open University, Google, FutureLearn and the Good Things Foundation are all providing free courses. Find more information here.
#3 Recreate social events
Remote workers are becoming more inventive by the day and finding ways to replicate the social life that they share with colleagues. Inviting furloughed team members to join in with the fun will help them feel that are still one of the team. No shop talk, just a time to get together and catch up.
When it’s time to return to work
Your employees will naturally be worried about what the future holds for them. It’s essential that you are open and honest and provide updates when you can on your back to work plans, and the steps you are taking to ensure everyone’s safety in the workplace when they return.
We hope you found these tips helpful. Stay safe and let’s all take care of each other. We’re here you need our help.