Supporting furloughed employees during the COVID-19 pandemic

April 22, 2020
Tammy Rahman

In light of recent and unprecedented circumstances with COVID-19, UpSkill Digital has had increasing requests from our partners and clients on supporting the wellbeing of furloughed employees.

So, what can we do to support them?

Everyone will look at furlough in a different way.  The feeling of no longer being a member of a core team as well as losing daily structure is difficult.

Many furloughed employees may feel a mixture of these emotions coming and going, as time goes on as we see this pandemic evolve. These feelings will all impact wellbeing, while the situation itself may create feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Upskill Digital has come up with a list of ways to support the wellbeing of furloughed workers, with some insightful resources.

Be open, emphasize their value and highlight their contributions

The value people place on things like their career, their salary, and their professional achievements is something that we can’t emphasize enough.

We all collect evidence to support our beliefs and if their belief is that they’re not valued, they will quickly think of all the ways they could have done something wrong or why they’re not as good as their colleagues, who may still be staying on full-time.

Tell your staff why you value them, highlight things in the past year that they’ve done really well or achieved. Be sure to remind them of their outstanding review and tell them what projects you’re looking forward to working with them on, in the future.

You need to ensure that after you’ve finished talking, they have no doubts about how important they are to you.

Stay connected

There are multiple ways to help prevent furloughed employees from feeling isolated and disengaged from the team. These include:

  • regular one-to-one wellbeing check-ins – via video call is great
  • virtual team syncs, where employees can connect with each other and catch up
  • enabling employees to keep in touch with each other day-to-day
  • keeping employees informed of any company developments

Provide a learning and development plan

Learning and development helps to keep the brain active which may be otherwise very unstructured. Losing one’s routine and structure can affect mental health.

Talk to employees about any skills that they would like to develop, or work with them to plan what may be beneficial for their progression. Encourage employees to access wellbeing boosting resources.

Please find a list of learning resources that Upskill Digital have put together:

Plan ahead

Our current situation will not last forever, so plan ahead for furloughed employees returning to work. Be proactive in your approach and set up a return-to-work one-to-one, in advance, to discuss positive personal and professional steps that will support their return. Let the first few days of reintegration in the office be as smooth as possible by asking them how they’re feeling, make sure to reassure them they have time to get back up to speed within their role. This is a similar approach to when an employee has been off work with a mental health problem. In doing so, this will ultimately be highly constructive for the individual and business in the future.

The number of those on furlough are sky-rocketing at the moment, with all facing many unique challenges. Why not take these steps today to help your furloughed employees stay afloat and mentally prepared for their return to work?

We are happy to work with you and provide high-impact Off The Shelf or bespoke workshops. At UpSkill, we firmly believe that this current situation should not affect a person’s ability to access the learning they require, and with that in mind, we have slashed all of our prices by 50%!

Feel free to get in touch with any queries, we would also really appreciate it if you could share this amongst your network, especially if you know someone who is on furlough.

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