Each employee will react differently to being furloughed – some may welcome the opportunity to care for dependents in their household whilst others may struggle with the lack of daily structure.
Employees are not permitted to do any work for the businesses, or check work emails but a weekly text/check in to their personal phone to check they are OK would be a good way to keep in touch with them.
It is good practice to conduct wellbeing checks with them on a regular basis. The best way to put these into place is to agree with them how they would best like to be communicated with and how often, and make sure you stick to this. Do not lose contact where possible.
Suggest training/personal development
Employees who are used to working may be at a loss of what to do. Training is permitted as long as it doesn’t involve them providing services to, or generating revenue for or on behalf of their organisation. This could be training to enhance their learning for when they return to work or something personal to them.
Provide them with ideas, opportunities and activities that they can take part in or enjoy while they are not at work. This could be a virtual tour of a museum, online musicals/plays, yoga, fitness or meditation.
Support their wellbeing
Are there people in place at your company that can provide organisational wellbeing support? These could include employee assistance helplines, mental health first aiders, financial wellbeing support information or support groups.
If there are still employees working, encourage them to keep in touch with furloughed workers; with consent, you could share personal email addresses so those employees still at work can keep in touch. Creating WhatsApp groups can also help furloughed workers feel included with what is going on at work, without the pressure to reply or temptation to get involved in work matters.
Create a check sheet of key organisations and support groups that can be there for them, whatever the employee’s need. Mental Health UK website is a great resource.
Prepare for the future
We don’t know when lockdown will start to lift or how the country will look when this begins to happen. However, you can prepare and put some staff support in place for when working life begins to look more ‘normal’.
Staff morale may be low - there can be resentment between furloughed and non-furloughed staff – therefore it is important to ensure that there are regular support sessions/1-1s in place for the transition back to work to be a positive experience.
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