Navigating Furlough: putting employee wellbeing first
Employee wellbeing has increasingly been on employers’ radars over the last decade. But now, during these tough times, it’s never been so vital. Before Covid-19 dominated our day-to-day, the term ‘Furlough’ was unfamiliar to many of us. The government has introduced the job retention scheme to help businesses during these uncertain times. The scheme allows employers to apply for a grant that covers 80% of their employees’ monthly wage. Employees who are placed onto job retention scheme are temporarily suspended from work, and therefore ‘furloughed’.
But a job retention scheme doesn’t engender employee wellbeing alone
So, employee wellbeing has never been more paramount. With furloughed staff and many remaining employees working from home, people can very easily feel isolated and lonely.
How may being furloughed affect your staff?
Each individual circumstance is different. Some employees may appreciate the extra time they have due to other responsibilities that have increased, for example childcare. Whilst others, especially those who live on their own may feel further isolated. Some employees may have problems at home with families and relationships. As an employer, it is important to signpost the different charities, local organisations and help that is out there.
How to contribute to positive employee wellbeing?
Clear and transparent communication:
- Keep up to date with the latest government information to ensure you give accurate and clear information to staff.
- Provide reassurance where possible that this is only a temporary measure.
- Be open and transparent with employees about your decisions taken, and why particular staff have been chosen. This will ensure employees are fully informed and prevent mis-information circulating.
- Implement a weekly staff update which includes all furloughed staff, this could be in the form of a newsletter, video call or email.
- It is important that furloughed staff still feel like they are part of the team. Whilst they can’t help with work, they can still be kept up to date via daily meetings. This will also ease the process when furloughed employees return to work, keeping productivity high.
- Keep morale high by creating more virtual social activities such as quizzes and pubs to include furloughed workers. See our previous blog post for more suggestions for increasing positivity during this time.
- Encourage furloughed staff to pursue new skills and training, or volunteering opportunities, for example, many people have already signed up for the National Care Force.
- Set up regular wellbeing calls with furloughed staff and encourage staff to think about their mental wellbeing during the crisis. There are plenty of wonderful resources to refer to for example the Mental Health UK and Mind Mental Health at Work have put together a toolkit to support yourself and employee wellbeing during this tricky time.
Positive actions to encourage employee wellbeing are vital during these strange times and will encourage a more productive, healthy and dynamic workplace now and in the future.