Before the year 2020 terms such as; furlough, social distancing, and even lockdowns were unheard of. However, over the last year, these topics have been discussed every single day; possibly more than once, and unfortunately we have become very familiar with them all.
As of 15th March 2021, approximately 11.4 million jobs from 1.3 million different employers were furloughed in the United Kingdom; as part of the government’s job retention scheme. Furthermore, since April 2020, we have issued 1656 furlough claims which have resulted in an outstanding value of £6,722,659.
However, with the Government's roadmap back to normality many employers will be beginning to welcome back furloughed staff and will want to make this transition as smooth as possible.
The furlough process can be considered as ‘re-onboarding’ which is an HR process that manages communications and administration processes for workers who need to be reintroduced back into the workplace.
There are a variety of simple things which you add to this process that can make a big difference in making returning staff feel welcome. This blog will discuss all the areas employers should consider when welcoming back furlough staff and provide solutions to making the process as straightforward as possible.
It is important to acknowledge how being furloughed may have had an impact on a number of your employee's well-being. The furlough scheme will have affected everybody differently, that’s why it is important to have individual conversations and check-ins with each furloughed employee, to allow them to voice any feelings or concerns privately.
Some members of staff may have enjoyed the extra free time to themselves and furlough could have been a positive experience for them.
On the other hand, some members of staff may have found it a lot more difficult, they may be worried about job security, feeling undervalued, or even guilty about being at home and not working for so long.
It is also important to remember, if other members of staff have continued working, this may cause some feelings of insecurity or even resentment towards others.
Honest and personal communication is the answer to this, you should be dedicating time to speak on a personal level to each furloughed member of staff before their return date. Allowing you the chance to reassure them on areas such as job security, give them the latest business updates and check in on their wellbeing; so you can provide personal solutions to suit their needs and keep them engaged and happy at work. Their return back to work should be communicated with other members of staff, so they can be prepared to welcome them on their first day back.
However your employees have felt during furlough, they will have all established new patterns, new routines, lack of routines, and new behaviours during the lockdown. The prospect of returning to work may not be as exciting as it used to be, which may result in a lack of enthusiasm and motivation, which is another area employers should address before their return date.
You could try setting exciting goals or rewarding challenges to work towards. This can help energise behaviour, motivation and give your employees direction again. Therefore, when introducing furloughed staff back to work why not take the time to discuss some new goals, training opportunities or company challenges with them. Is there a new skill they have learned during lockdown which could help them develop their role at work?
Companies that adapt in innovative ways will be the ones that will be able to return to normal with a more focused, engaged, and resilient team of employees.
A big part of creating a positive workplace is by making sure your workplace culture allows your employees to feel respected, represented, valued, and unified as part of a team. Companies with winning organisational cultures have 72% higher employee engagement ratings that organisations with weak or no workplace culture.
Now you are welcoming back members of staff, this can be seen as the perfect opportunity to reflect, refresh and reinforce your workplace culture. By taking the time to examine the small things can lead to a big difference in motivation for the returning members of staff.
There are plenty of ways you can reinforce workplace culture such as allowing time in the day for catching up with other employees, team-building activities, virtual social events after work, and other team challenges
Like we discussed earlier honest and clear communication is vital when welcoming back furloughed employees. During these unprecedented times, businesses have had to change and adapt their workplace habits, routines, and procedures mainly in regards to the health and safety of their employees. Therefore, if the returning members of staff are unaware of any new procedures, rules, or health and safety regulations in place you must spend time to update and train them. As a result of this, you can reassure them that their safety is your main concern and help eradicate any concerns they may have.
You may have put together a contingency plan at the beginning of the pandemic, which outlined risks your business may face, business processes that may have had to change and a strategy depending on government advice.
However, with guidance changing frequently this plan may have been adapted or changed completely. So, it is important to first let your employees know that you have a contingency plan in place to reassure them, but also update them and make sure they understand your plan for the future and how it includes them.
Again this can reassure any employees worried about job security, business performance and motivate them to continue working hard.
Business strategy services
We hope that you have found this blog insightful and it has provided you with the information you require to begin welcoming back your employees. At Pierce, we provide several business strategy services which have helped many companies across the UK build a successful strategy for the future. From annual reviews, changing procedures, working towards KPI, and forecasting, we have an expert team ready to help you and your business be the best it can!
Speak to our expert team today about any furlough related queries you may have here
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