Touching base, not touching face
It’s particularly important during this lockdown period to make sure that you remain in contact with your team, particularly those who have been furloughed. These are untested times for many people and helping them feel engaged will ease the transition back into work again when this is over. Trying to keep communications open, with a degree of ‘normality’ in terms of routine and a working day. This will ensure the return to the office environment isn’t too dramatic or traumatic.
Adapting and learning
The concept of furlough has brought with it extremes. Some people are loving being on furlough and are possibly enjoying themselves too much. While others – although understanding the rationale behind it – are actually feeling less certain. In fact, some have been emotionally impacted as if they had been made redundant, even though in many cases their jobs will be there for them to go back to when the lockdown eases.
While staff aren’t allowed to work for their employers while furloughed, they are allowed to volunteer (not for their own company) or undertake training. It might be useful to help furloughed employees focus by signposting some training that they can do. There is lots of free or low-cost training available online at the moment. It’s an excellent opportunity to use the time creatively in a way that will stand them – and the business – in good stead in the future.
Different firms and managers are dealing with this crisis differently. Good employers are making sure that their staff are involved in the ongoing developments, as and when the government announce them. When the government decides on its exit strategy and shares it with employers, companies can plan how they can activate their businesses and to what degree ‘normal’ business can resume. Such assurances to staff are important, but interim updates along the way are equally crucial too.
A change in the weather
People’s mental wellbeing is also important during periods like this. Good, regular communication can help with this aspect for your staff too. April’s good weather has made it easier for many people to deal with worklife changes, but the weather can soon change. Resilience, both mental and physical, is very important. It’s also worth considering how people who haven’t been furloughed are feeling. Some are thankful to still be working, while others are resentful that some people have all this perceived ‘time off’, when they are still working.
Continuing to work will stand employees in good stead going forward. They will not have had the disruption of being furloughed and a break in routine. But equally, furlough is probably doing certain people a lot of good, with a chance to take stock and spend time doing things they otherwise don’t have time to, which can considerably help their mental wellbeing.
These unprecedented times can induce a conflicting mix of emotions, sometimes from day to day. Employers can’t make any assumptions about people’s situations, financial position and stability of home life. Keeping in touch with staff will help keep them rooted in the reality of a working environment, even if that environment is something very different to what they are used to.