In recent months the once relatively unknown term, furlough, has become a reality for millions across the globe. This presents new challenges for employers to keep their furloughed staff engaged and ready to return to work, when the time comes.
If months have gone by and those on furlough have disengaged, employers will face the difficult task of bringing their returning workforce up to speed. This may lead to significant losses in productivity that further impact your business.
Here are some tips on maintaining the engagement of your furloughed staff.
Maintaining the Engagement of Furloughed Staff
Culture is Key
During this time an invaluable lifeline for keeping furloughed employees switched on and connected to your organisation is a positive culture. Taking steps to establish an inclusive culture that supports furloughed employees is key for businesses at this time.
Clarity and Information
Furloughed staff may be worrying about how your business is doing, and whether or not they will have a job to go back to. That’s why it’s important to maintain regular communication channels with them and be as transparent as possible.
Let them know how they can contact you, and provide other channels such as WhatsApp, Zoom or Skype if they won’t be using their work email or other systems. It’s also a good idea to set up regular online meetings with them, not only to provide them with information and updates on the situation, but to catch up and find out how they’re feeling.
Provide them with links to where they can access further information like guidance on their rights under the furlough scheme – such as the Citizens Advice website.
Keep Them in the Loop with Team Updates
Fuelling a positive culture for remote workers can be a challenge. It’s also just as important to keep furloughed staff feeling like they’re a valued part of your organisation and their team still. Not only will it keep them motivated and prevent feelings of social isolation, keeping furloughed staff in communication will save you time and productivity in the long run. You won’t need to spend so much time on filling them in on what’s been going on while they were away.
Mental Health Support
Mental health is also an important consideration. With stress and loneliness at an all-time high, it’s a good idea to provide support and guidance that lets your employees know you have their wellbeing and safety in
mind. Just as you should for non-furloughed employees now working remotely. Mental health charity Mind has a clear and comprehensive checklist for staying healthy during lockdown.
Stay in Touch with Newsletters and Virtual Socials
People that have taken a step away from work don’t have to lose touch with their colleagues and your business. Encourage staff to keep in contact with their colleagues who are on furlough, and if you send out staff newsletters make sure furloughed staff are included. While they aren’t allowed to work, you can still involve them in any after-work social time without a specific agenda, such as Friday night ’pub’ sessions over Zoom.
Provide Upskilling Opportunities
While staff can’t carry out work under furlough, the good news is that training is allowed. Online training courses are a great way of using this time to upskill your staff in areas that will be valuable to your organisation.
Saying that, everyone is different – while some people might welcome the opportunity to work on new skills while furloughed, others might not, so ask furloughed staff what their goals might be during leave.
The more interaction you are able to have with your furloughed employees will ensure a smooth and successful return when work eventually resumes.
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