Back to work from furlough

David Price, workplace wellbeing expert and CEO of health and wellbeing provider Health Assured, gives employers advice about how to support the wellbeing of furloughed employees returning to work.

Business woman at the business center outdoors

 

According to figures from HM Revenue & Customs, some 9.3 million people have been furloughed under the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.  With lockdown restrictions being slowly and carefully lifted across the UK, employers from various sectors will be steadily preparing their workplaces ahead of the return of some, if not all, team members. But what about those returning from furlough leave?

The wellbeing of furloughed staff

 If you have any team members who have been placed on furlough, the thought of returning to work after an extended leave of absence may cause a strain on their emotional wellbeing.

Depending on your business, you may have had team members working from home during the pandemic. For these individuals, the news of returning to the workplace may appear less daunting, as they have maintained some semblance of a work routine. 

How can I support furloughed employees returning to work?

To help you navigate the wellbeing of your returning furlough team members, here are three tips to consider in the lead-up to your organisation opening its doors again to them.

  • Communication is key – The simplest yet most effective method of reassuring your employees is by keeping them in the loop regularly. In the weeks leading up to you opening your workplace, ensure that you lay out your plan as clear as possible, detailing the measures you are putting place to ensure the health and safety of your people.
  • Virtual meetings – Host informal virtual meetings with your furloughed employees. During these meetings, you can discuss any worries they may have and the reasonable adjustments that you can provide to make their return easier, such as a staggered approach to their working schedule and flexible working hours to avoid peak travel times.
  • Work atmosphere – Your workplace will navigate this transition much easier if you help generate a positive and inclusive working environment – as one unified team. However, some employees may have strong feelings with regard to their imminent return to work. Ensure that your management team make themselves available to help reduce any potential tensions or conflicts.

If your workplace is not in a position to welcome all its team members back yet, there are plenty of ways to help your furloughed employees remain focused and stimulated during these challenging times.

It’s important to know that all of your employees, whether they have been working from home, placed on furlough or have remained in the workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic, will likely have been affected by the virus in some way.

Whether it be physically or emotionally, the pandemic has taken a toll on us all, and while we begin to transition to the ‘new normal’, it’s vital that employers put measures in place to protect the wellbeing of their team members.

*David Price is workplace wellbeing expert and CEO of health and wellbeing provider Health Assured.



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