Many employers and HR managers in the UK are looking for ways to effectively manage work from home employees during the coronavirus outbreak. But how do you manage employees if you’re forced to put them on an unpaid or partially paid leave?
No employer wants to announce furloughs because the need for a temporary reduction in workforce usually means that the company is having a hard time financially. However, with the growing economic uncertainty following the spread of COVID-19, temporarily laying off employees, or ‘furloughing’ as it is commonly called, has become a harsh reality for millions of people around the world.
Keeping furloughed employees engaged is crucial for the future of your business
Supporting your furloughed employees is equally, if not more, important than supporting employees who are working from home. It shows that even when they are not working, the company is actively trying to help them in whatever way it can. This not only keeps them from harbouring any ill feelings towards the organisation, but also keeps them motivated and ready to return to work as soon as required.
Furloughing can make things all the more challenging for employers and employees alike.
However, as an employer or an HR manager, it’s your responsibility to reassure the affected workers, help them understand the situation, and provide them with the support they might need.
5 Ways employers can support furloughed employees
Here are some easy yet effective tips for helping your employees
- Create a furlough package
Effective communication is the key to solving almost half the problems in business settings. So, make sure you are well prepared before you decide to break the news. You must have a clear idea of what to say and how to say it.
Put together a furlough package that provides detailed information about what furloughing means, why it is happening, who will be affected, how long it will last, and so on.
Just like a new-hire package, this will help the employees get acquainted with the basics of what to do and how to manage the oncoming lapse in their work.
Include details of how you plan to stay in touch along with any steps that the employees should take during this time—for instance, applying for unemployment benefits to make up for the lost wages.
- Keep relevant communications going
Under normal circumstances, employers should call furloughed workers for an in-person meeting from time to time. It ensures that they don’t feel left out and gives them a chance to catch up on any missed office news and events.
Since the social distancing advice may not allow this, the next best option is to leverage different platforms for this purpose.
Use your social channels to engage with your furloughed employees and talk about things outside of work every now and then.
Keep in touch, ask how they are doing, give each other advice for battling these tough times, or simply share what you all have been up to during the whole day. Encourage questions. Keep them up-to-date with the business.
To keep furloughed employees in the loop about work activities, you can use a team communication app or other similar business productivity tools that keep your interactions private and more secure.
- Provide assistance in applying for monetary aid
Furloughs are generally unpaid leaves, so your employees would need to find an alternative source of income as soon as possible.
Since it’s not always so easy to find a job in the UK, especially considering the current situation, search for ways to get financial relief during COVID-19 and then let your staff in on the same.
The government has recently put together the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in addition to releasing funds for thousands of employees who are being affected as the coronavirus crisis continues to collapse businesses.
Learn more about these policies and stay up to date on any changes that the government may make in them.
Since government systems are overloaded these days as hundreds of thousands of people are filing for benefits, your furloughed employees are likely to turn to the HR managers in the UK for help.
Remaining knowledgeable about the application and claim processes of different financial aid options will allow you to extend support and streamline the process for your workers.
- Offer EAP resources
An Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is a voluntary program that can be initiated on behalf of your organisation. It aims to help improve your employees’ overall wellbeing by connecting them with certain free mental health care services such as counselling.
Encourage your furloughed workers to avail these services as it can help them cope with stress and anxiety.
- Remind them that this is a temporary measure
The main objective of suspending employment for a couple of workers (or maybe even the entire workforce) is to help keep the business afloat during a time when continuing to operate normally can prove detrimental to its existence.
Thus, remind your team members that the decision to temporarily lay them off isn’t due to performance issues. Rather, it’s to help the company brave the storm and come out on the other side of this global crisis relatively unscathed.
Following these tips for keeping furloughed employees engaged will hopefully pay off in terms of increased motivation, high productivity, and a stable employee retention rate when the workers are finally asked to return to work.
If you need help in implementing these strategies, or are looking for more unique ways to boost your team’s morale and keep your employees energised during these unprecedented times, get in touch with me today.