With it comes new challenges for employers who must work hard to ensure staff remain engaged and ready to return to work. Here, Tobin Murphy-Coles, Head of Commercial at leading underrepresented talent specialist, MyKindaFuture, provides his advice on how employers can ensure their staff continue to feel valued during the COVID-19 crisis.
Engaging Furloughed Employees to Prepare Them for the Return to Work
With over 9 million people furloughed in the UK, businesses are facing an unprecedented challenge when it comes to keeping their workforces motivated and engaged.
If employers have allowed staff to become disengaged as the months have gone by, they will face the arduous task of bringing their workforce up to speed when they do eventually return. This may lead to significant losses in productivity that impact the bottom line.
If nothing is done to keep furloughed employees engaged, this is a distinct possibility. After all, staff have stepped away from their work lives and all that they entail, often not by choice, for several months. Their situation, in many ways, can be likened to that of those returning from a period of parental leave, only with added concerns around the long-term security of the company and their role within it. With the majority of businesses continuing to operate in some capacity, companies have been running while employee’s have been absent, and this can lead to insecurities around their value.
Difficult times such as these are when corporate culture becomes a stanchion for employees affected by a crisis. A strong, positive culture and open communication can prove to be an invaluable lifeline for keeping furloughed employees switched on and connected to an organisation. As the glue that keeps companies together, taking steps to establish an inclusive culture that supports furloughed employees is key for businesses at this time.
Failing to do so could risk members of staff becoming so disengaged with the business that they seek opportunities elsewhere. For those who do return, the impact could be longer lasting, with employees becoming less motivated and less productive.
Top Tips for Engaging Furloughed Employees
Communication is Critical
Communication is everything when it comes to avoiding issues with staff retention and productivity when employees return to work, but it must be done in the right way.
Businesses must carefully consider the most appropriate channels for communication with furloughed employees. For example, whilst sending an email to a furloughed colleague’s work account might seem like a good idea, this could result in them seeing other work-related correspondence, which could cause them stress, or even compromise the legal terms of furlough. Social media isn’t the answer either. It isn’t helpful to mix employees’ work and personal narratives at an already unsettling time.
With this in mind, third party technologies present a strong solution. The voluntary nature of these platforms avoids furloughed members of staff feeling pressured to use them, but the content, if well positioned, will ensure that they want to engage and find value in doing so.
For example, MyKindaFuture has launched a new version of its employee engagement platform, Connectr, devised specifically to help businesses support furloughed employees. It offers employees access to tailored content designed specifically to support their individual needs, including learning modules, company updates, well-being tips and advice on how to prepare for going back to work
Third-party platforms like Connectr can also be used to offer access to virtual one-on-one mentoring schemes, allowing employees to seek advice on any issues that might be troubling them, from loyalty to legal queries, helping to maintain a vital sense of belonging amongst all employees during furlough.
Reconsider Your Employee Value Proposition
A business’s employee value proposition (EVP) is crucial for attracting talent and retaining employees. It should run through all aspects of a business’s internal and external communications.
However, things will have changed when furloughed employees return to work. With this in mind, employers must consider what their new EVPs will look like and communicate this clearly and openly throughout all of their correspondence with furloughed staff. This will make their transition back into the company as smooth as possible when the time comes.
Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail
All businesses must start preparations for reintegration now, even if it is unclear when exactly employees will be returning to the workforce.
It is unfair to expect teams to return to work with full productivity from the get-go, so employers should prepare for a gradual reintegration process which ensures employees feel valued and supported throughout the process. Without a doubt, it is the businesses that operate in this way and plan ahead, that will be rewarded with productive, motivated and loyal workforces in the long-term.
For more information about supporting furloughed employees via third party platforms, visit www.connectr.co.uk