Communicating with employees on furlough

Posted 18/08/2020 : By: Kathryn Pratt

Many employers in the UK will continue to make use of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) until it ends on 31 October. By this point, employers and employees are generally aware of what the term furlough means and how it works. The issue we tend to find comes up most frequently, however, is a lack of communication from employers to their employees.

Employers should keep in mind that lots of employees will return to their old jobs once the Coronavirus pandemic has passed and many will have found furlough leave stressful and isolating, so it’s essential that employers maintain a good relationship with their teams during this uncertain period. Here are our top tips to ensure you’re communicating with furloughed employees effectively.

1. Agree a platform to keep in touch with furloughed employees
Explain that you would like to communicate with them during their furlough leave about non work-related matters. Don’t use their work email as this may encourage employees to respond to emails received or action points contained in emails, which would be in breach of the CJRS.

2. Be consistent
Provide some stability by communicating consistently with employees at agreed times. Even if there isn’t anything new to talk about, use a weekly video chat or email to reassure and maintain the bond. Employees will feel valued and appreciate the contact in these unusual times.

3. Keep them updated about what’s happening in the business
Keep employees in the loop with any plans or changes. By explaining what’s happening in the business during this ever-changing situation, employees will be reassured that they know the full picture.

4. Expect different reactions from your employees and adapt your communication style accordingly
Introverts may feel quite comfortable not going into the office and need less contact, while extroverts might feel anxious about their lack of social contact and may require more communication. Carers and parents may find being on furlough easier to manage than juggling caring responsibilities with homeworking. Everyone has a different situation, but everyone will be worried about their employment and what the future looks like.

5. Encourage teams to maintain a social bond
Bringing teams together for regular, virtual social activities is a good way to keep up morale and make everyone feel connected, especially where some team members have been furloughed while others are still working. Many teams will have a WhatsApp chat group already – just make sure that they are aware that no work content is to be discussed.

6. Promote wellbeing
Furloughed employees may be feeling isolated and struggling to deal with the lack of routine or social interaction that their employment would usually bring. Support them by advising on exercise, nutrition, or tips for a good night’s sleep. Share any information about how the organisation supports employees so they know what help is available.

7. Keep people updated
Your company’s position may need to change based on Government advice. Keep people informed of any change to company policy but be honest about what you do and don’t know, nobody has all the answers. 

If you would like any more information on communicating with furloughed employees or need to address any concerns you have with team members, please do get in touch. One of the team will be happy to help.

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