As nearly three-quarters of businesses have furloughed staff, a leadership and management provider has given tips on how to have the furlough conversation with your staff.
According to a British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) weekly survey, 71 per cent of companies have furloughed staff. In light of this, The Hub Events have given advice on how to broach the topic of putting staff on furlough.
Explain what furlough means
“Don’t assume that your employees understand what furlough is, and how it is the best option for both the company and all employees, so take the time to explain it as best you can. Once your employees understand they will still be receiving an income, and that their jobs are safe, they will be more at ease with the decision and open to a constructive conversation.”
“Make sure your employee understands the next steps for themselves as well as what to expect from you. This can include their expected date of return, how often you will be contacting them during the furlough period, and how they will receive payslips at home. Take this time to reiterate the economic reasons behind the decision, and remind them it is not a personal choice. Practice care to avoid disclosing who else has been placed on furlough.”
“Avoid apologising for this decision. You may feel guilty or find yourself overextending offers to help those placed on furlough. Do not make this a personal circumstance – practice empathy instead of sympathy.
“If your employee has questions or approaches you for help during this time – practice active listening skills and react appropriately; this is a great opportunity to reassure them that the decision is no reflection of their work standard, and that their job is not at risk. Your employee may be going through some personal issues which manifest during your conversation, so understanding their underlying concern will go a long way in helping draw boundaries between how the company can help them during furlough and issues they may need to resolve privately.”
However, once your employee has been told the news, The Hub Events company does not think your work as an employer should end there. As furloughed staff will be returning to work, it is a good idea to keep in touch with them.
“After the initial conversation, be sure to follow up and check in on your employee. This needn’t be a formal meeting; simply asking them how their day was, giving them a weekly informal update on how the company is getting on and making the effort to keep in touch can go far in maintaining a great working relationship. Another idea is to include furloughed employees in a WhatsApp group chat; this avoids the temptation for them to ‘talk shop’ or be enticed to do some work, but encourages them to remain part of the conversation and avoid feeling left out or their work family. Offer employee support if you have a system in place, or refer them to Samaritans if they’re facing bigger battles than you can’t assist with.”
Prepare for their return
“Returning to work may invoke anxiety in some employees, especially if they do not know what to expect. Rally the team of staff who have continued working normally and try arranging a “welcome back to the office” lunch – or something similar. Bearing in mind that none of us know what type of restrictions we’ll be facing for the foreseeable, keep your plans socially distant. If your employee walks into an office with cakes and coffee to celebrate their return, they’re bound to feel heaps better – and so will you.”
“Slowly and surely, look at how you can make their re-integration as smooth as possible. Keep in mind they may have faced anxieties and traumas while at home and may take some time to adjust. Avoid setting up client-facing meetings (if possible) during this time to allow them to ease back into their routine. Perhaps consider allowing them to work flexible hours or continue to work from home for a few days. Also try to arrange a 1-to-1 with them to catch them up on what’s happened in their absence, and what you expect from them in their first few weeks back at the office.”