1) Regular and Agreed Communication
Communication becomes the key to managing employees who have been furloughed. Your first responsibility is to make sure employees understand what that means. Do they understand the short- and long-term impact of the decision that has been made? How does it affect them and their lives?
Regular and agreed communication is vital to keep structure and focus and for employees to still feel involved in the organisation and not lose interest and the sense of belonging.
For example every Monday at 10:00 is a communication from the SLT about the week ahead, what the business is doing, it’s short-term plans, how is it responding to the situation, recognising it is difficult for everyone, etc.
Every Wednesday at 12.00 is a well-being announcement with advice, infographics, links to key information and support. Keeping employees feeling valued and cared for.
Every Friday is an engagement message to thank people for working with the organisation in difficult times and to discuss positives or plans for the future.
Ensure you ask questions in your communication that can facilitate answers or responses to show your employees their opinions still want to be heard. Employees will be hoping to be back in their job roles as soon as they can be, ask if there is anything that would support or help them in this difficult time and listen and respond.
2) Vision and Values
Being Furloughed means you are on a “leave of absence”. You want the employees to be ready and focused to return to work when they are able to and still feel a sense of belonging to the organisation. Engaged employees equal a successful organisation.
Ensure you are communicating in-line with the organisation’s values. What is a priority right now? Communicate about the business vision and values to remind people what they are part of and what they work so hard to belong to. Make sure they see how their contribution has helped the organisation to be a success.
Remind people how important they are and show them they will be treated with respect and in-line with the values of the organisation throughout this period of change. Make sure they feel considered in the decisions the organisation has made.
3) Clear Objectives and Aims
We all need to feel a sense of achievement and a sense of purpose on a daily basis. Remember to praise and thank your employees for their contribution over their careers, for showing resilience in difficult times and for being able to adjust to new demands and periods of uncertainty.
Communicate in positive language using “we”, “us” and “When we are back together in the work place”. Be clear on the aims and objectives of the business and how each individual fits into those aims and objectives going forward.
4) Well-being and emotional intelligence in communication
Employee’s well-being, in such difficult times, is a priority along with providing routine communications and delivering key update information. Communication regarding wellness on a weekly basis also ensures employees feel cared for. Let employees know about any EAP schemes that would still be applicable to them, what support is available internally and from outside the organisation such as charities and government help and support.
Communicate with Emotional intelligence by considering what your employees are feeling, what are they concerned about? What do they need? Also consider what they need to hear to stay resilient and positive. Consider the consequences of making employees feel the opposite. What damage will that do?
Offer virtual training. By investing in your workforce and upskilling them why they are not in their working day shows you are investing in them and want to retain them ready to come back to work. They then return to work upskilled and ready to apply new skills.
5) Ethics and integrity
At difficult times our values are tested, whether it is our own values or the organisation's. Consider the ethics behind every decision you make and always act with integrity. Your employees will be looking for how the organisation responds in times of difficultly. How did it treat people? What decisions did the organisation choose to make? Engagement comes from employees sharing the values of their workforce. This is a time those values and ethics will be visible through actions.
Marie Thake is our people development consultant and our leadership and management expert, now delivering coaching sessions and several in-house courses.