Bringing staff back from furlough: What you need to think about
As Covid restrictions start to ease, you might be thinking about bringing any staff you’ve placed on furlough back to work. However, it’s essential to do this in the right way and at the right time for both your employees and your business, whetherthat’s in the coming months or when furlough is currently scheduled to end in September.
What should I think about when bringing staff back to work after furlough?
If you are thinking of bringing back the whole workforce, think about whether it is safe to do so. Is your office or place of work large enough for social distancing?
Consider whether you will be bringing staff back on their previous contracted terms and conditions and make sure you consult with them first.If you are only considering bringing back a select few staff because you are not fully operational – but you are thinking of doing this before the end of furlough, ensure that, when you are selecting the individuals you want to return, this is done fairly and is justifiable.
You’ll need to give them reasonable notice of their return to work and put this in writing, taking into account any restrictions your employees might have, such as arranging childcare.
When I’ve decided who I’m bringing back, how can I ensure they settle back in to work?
Some staff might have been away from the workplace for a considerable time. They may have lost some confidence in their abilities, might not have seen their colleagues during the time they’ve been on furlough, and could well feel very apprehensive about returning.
Transitioning back to work after such an extended period of time can be a shock, so it is essential as an employer that you allow a degree of flexibility.
Brief your staff on what they can expect on their return, such as changes to facilities, changes to procedures and most importantly, reiterate the health and safety measures in place regarding Covid-19.
Try and be mindful that the pandemic may have a differing impact on different people in your workforce, so make sure employees feel they are returning to a supportive and understanding working environment.
You could also think about reintegrating staff within their teams prior to their return to work This could simply be regular video calls or scheduled virtual team events, and will helpmake the re-onboarding process much smoother and less stressful.
Will my staff need any development or training when they return to work after furlough?
Whilst staff have been on furlough, they may feel they have lost some vital skills or have missed out on some crucial training. This can especially be the case if a member of staff has been on full furlough for a long period of time,so it’s important to get them up to speed as soon as you can.
As this can often be a time of high anxiety that has an impact on employee well-being, your returning employees could have a varying degree of feelings so it is essential to be aware of people’s emotions and reassure and support them through the process.
Finally, communication with your staff is key. Consider an open-door policy so that returning staff know they can approach you privately if they have any questions or concerns. Knowing they are valued and supported during their return to work will be vital to their well-being.
Author: Wendy Cresswell, HR Advisor at Howarths