Lana Knight

Support and Engage Employees After Furlough 

It’s estimated that 7.5 million UK jobs were furloughed between 20 April and 10 May 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, which is almost a quarter of the British population.

Where it’s safe to do so, many employers will be welcoming back their furloughed employees, after what has been a difficult time for all.

Most employees will be relishing the thought of getting back to businesses and connecting with their colleagues, teams and contacts again – yet, this will also mean another readjustment to a new normal and the question facing employers is probably “how can I support and engage my team?”

Of course, we must not forget the many employees who have continued to the business throughout the coronavirus pandemic and the challenges they have faced as a smaller team. They’ve perhaps lost colleagues and friends and have experienced an uncertainty that has gone hand in hand with this.

Here, we discuss three key areas that will enable you to support and engage all staff across the business, as furloughed employees return to the workplace.

Establish a clear vision for the future

It might be that furloughed employees feel disconnected as they return to the business and need to feel part of the business journey once again. Equally, the organisation may have changed in its proposition, so it’s important to share where you’ve been, where you are and where you’re going as a team.

  • Create a short ‘welcome back’ video that employees can access from their laptop, desktop or device.
  • Share a pre-recorded company update that all employees can attend both physically or virtually. These could be featured monthly or quarterly. Better still, make them available on demand.
  • Host a series of ‘re-connect’ lunches or coffee mornings, both virtually or physically. Any opportunity for staff to reconnect either in person (safely) or virtually is vital. Less formal company updates can be shared in a more comfortable environment. 

Employee wellbeing

There are many things to consider when thinking about employee wellbeing, but it’s important to recognise that everyone is different and will be on their own individual journey, whether returning from furlough or having worked throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Employers looking to give employees a sense of meaning in their work must establish a clear vision for the future.

It’s therefore important to offer a range of opportunities, where the focus is employee wellbeing and ensure they are consistently available – as we know, positive employee wellbeing can increase productivity.

  • Mind.org has produced a fantastic framework, which aims to promote wellbeing and tackle the causes of work-related mental health problems.
  • Why not share regular information and strategies with employees to encourage them to dedicate time to their own wellbeing and mental health.
  • Provide ongoing coaching and development. Some employees might actively search out mentors for their personal development and some will need encouragement from their managers.
  • Create a series of physical and virtual ‘wellbeing drop-ins’, where staff feel safe to share thoughts, feelings and any concerns. This could even be as simple as regular 121 sessions or on demand videos in how to communicate effectively.
  • Promote perks that will boost mental and physical health and bring employees together such as healthy lunches, an annual wellness day or companywide charity activation.

All of these elements can enable staff to think more about and better manage their own and their colleagues’ wellbeing and mental health and bring them together.

Engagement and recognition

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, Managers agreed that employee engagement was at the top of their priority list. Now, more than ever, it’s important to provide consistency across employee engagement strategy.

Equally, companies that value behaviours and qualities which contribute to making them high-performing and successful, such as innovation, strategic thinking, and collaboration, see the greatest benefit.

  • Praise your employees, whether they’re in the workplace or working remotely by creating a digital recognition campaign. This could be as simple as a monthly ‘employee appreciation’ programme which provides a selection of digital gifts such as e-vouchers, discounted gym memberships or services. You could also create a quarterly achievement webinar that’s weaved into a company update.
  • Providing opportunities for employees to attend either in person or remotely is key, in order that employees can experience the event or meeting in their own time. 
  • Create some healthy competition and reward outstanding performance with incentives for successful goal achievement. This will encourage people to feel more invested in their work.
  • Have more fun. Social events (virtual included) build a real sense of community within any organisation.
  • Embrace the options around engagement and recognition. Devise a series of employee engagement sessions that feature a range of content and activities that reinforce your company values and enhance employee connection, to keep them engaged.
  • Bring in a guest speaker to run an interactive session and make this available online on the day, and on-demand post-event. 

Talk to us.