Before COVID-19, the majority of us had never heard the word ‘furloughed’, and now it has become a main stay of our daily conversations.
The statistics speak for themselves:
- More than 140,000 UK companies applied to the furlough scheme on the day it was announced.
- By May 7th, 7.5 million people had been furloughed, approximately a quarter of the British workforce.
Whilst some might jest that furloughed employees are being paid to not work, the reality is much more serious, with anxiety and stress increasing in recent months, experts and mental health charities warn that during this crisis, employer’s have a critical duty of care to safe-guard the well-being of all their staff, more than ever.
In these times when employees can already feel isolated from their family and friends, being furloughed does not only increase financial worries, but can lower self-esteem too.
So how can business leaders and managers continue to connect with and engage their furloughed staff?
Hopefully, these 9 tips from the Dale Carnegie Leadership Team will help.
It’s easy for furloughed staff to feel disconnected and abandoned. As they can’t read emails, give them a call weekly just to update them, see how they’re getting on and make plans for their return.
Be a good listener
How is their mental health and the well-being of their family? Remain available to people for a chat so they know that your relationship is strong.
Become genuinely interested in other people
Everyone has so much going on at the moment, but when we are interested in them, they will know that we care about them as a person. Whatever people’s situation, it always has an impact to know that someone is thinking about us and genuinely cares about our well-being. For some people, contact with their colleagues / managers might be the majority of their interaction with others at the moment, so is even more vital than ever before.
Develop a ‘One Team’ Culture
Make sure everyone understands they have a part to play in us getting through the Covid-19 situation, whether they are furloughed or working. It would be culturally destructive if some felt they contributed more by working through the crisis whilst furloughed colleagues stayed home. “One team” is a strong message in these times.
Give honest, sincere appreciation
For the personal commitment and sacrifice of furloughed workers.
Communicate business updates and news regularly
Enable furloughed workers to feel proud of the business and to be motivated by its successes.
Social media Groups
These can be helpful in keeping colleagues and teams connected. Keep it fun! You could also consider creating one exclusively for the people that are furloughed, so they can share experiences, worries and concerns.
For those that are willing, consider looking at opportunities like webinars, where they can up-skill if they want to while they’re off.
If you work with a charitable partner, for those that are looking for ways to fill their time, you could look out for ways they could volunteer.
And remember, we’re all in this together, travelling on separate boats through the same storm.
The way we deal with this crisis and the impact on our people could well result in closer, more productive and satisfying relationships in the future.
Below is a list of resources you can share to help deal with stress and worry:
Golden Book, Principles from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living