How can you make sure that furloughed team members are happy to return, and, once back, able to work together productively? Our guide explains how.
As lockdown eases, you might feel that it’s time to bring your furloughed team back to work. You’ve put in place all the protection, hygiene and distancing measures. But how can you make sure that your people are happy to return, and, once back, able to work together productively?
People who feel valued by their employer are more likely to engage positively with returning to work. Furloughed employees may feel that their role is less vital than those of their non-furloughed colleagues, simply because they were selected for furlough. If you can earn their confidence that their role is integral to the business, they’ll be happier to return.
It’s vital to communicate effectively and personally. Treat your returnees as you would new recruits. This means lots of communication before they return, on their first day in, and beyond. Good two-way communication will:
Each person on furlough will have a different experience of lockdown, and you’ll be faced with a variety of complex needs to deal with. Some of your team will be desperate to get back to work; others will be hesitant because of extra caring responsibilities; most will be worried about pay; and, of course, they may feel vulnerable to redundancy. To ease concerns:
Be sensitive to the feelings of your non-furloughed people. It’s important that they don’t feel that they’ve been slogging away, while their furloughed colleagues have been enjoying a staycation. Show them appreciation and recognise their efforts through difficult times, perhaps through shout-outs on company communications, or through thoughtful thank you gifts and treats that make their time in the office easier, safer and more enjoyable.
Discuss with your furloughed employees whether they could adapt or swop responsibilities in order to return from furlough - but work from home. Post-lockdown, remote working is likely to become more normalised, so why not start the conversation now?
It can be challenging to re-engage furloughed employees back into the swing of work when work is performed remotely. Don’t expect super-productivity from the start, and make sure that your home working employee has everything they need, including:
Make sure to welcome them back with the warmth and courtesy you’d give them if they were returning to the ‘normal’ office, and that office-based staff know that your furloughed people are back at work. Help your team leaders gain the skills of managing their mixed remote-and-office-based team.
To build engagement as you re-introduce furloughed employees, try:
The key to reintroducing your furloughed employees is to focus on the physical, mental and emotional health of all your people, and to treat everyone with flexibility and sensitivity.