How to successfully re-introduce furloughed employees

With just under 10 million people in the UK on furlough, getting the return to work process right is key, making the transition as smooth as possible for both those returning and those still working.

Most organisations will have made a number of changes throughout the pandemic, whether it’s moving all staff to remote working or changing the way business processes are run, it is important to make sure that all employees are able to understand and can action the new ways of working. Here a few tips on how to best get furloughed employees back to work smoothly.

  • Be Compassionate

Making sure the correct tone is set for those returning to work will have a big impact, everyone has had a differing experience of the pandemic. Those on furlough have undoubtedly been more stressed about their careers and whether they will have a job to return to. They may also have challenges in their domestic settings. These are all reasons to make sure that sensitivity and compassion are key themes throughout their return process.

  • Consider and alter safety procedures

In line with government guidelines, it is vital to get this right in the workplace. It will reduce the likelihood of infection of employees but will also make them feel safer. Make sure all new rules and procedures are clearly laid out for those returning to work.

  • Review your flexible working policy and define a back to work plan

With a dramatic shift in the way people are working, it may be necessary to review your working from home policy to align better with new guidelines. Some employees might prefer to work from home with others wanting to come into the office, as well as those that want to do a bit of both. Try to create a system that will best suit everyone.

  • Have one-to-one meetings

In such unprecedented times, the health and safety of employees needs to be a top priority, a great way to monitor this is one-to-one meetings. This will allow you time with each member of staff to have conversations about their physical and mental health, while also giving you the opportunity to reassure them. Allowing them a chance to air any worries or challenges they may be having.

For those returning from furlough it can be a good time to clarify roles and present any changes, whether it be to their role or ways of working. These conversations will also need to be had with those who have continued working throughout, explaining how they can help facilitate others returns.

These one-to-one meetings need to be continued throughout the return process, as was done prior to the pandemic, to allow you to keep track of progress. Remember to give feedback to each employee on their successes and challenges and ways they can improve.

  • Provide organisational updates and changes

With new ways of working and market adaption to ‘the new normal’, there may have been a change in demand for products or services you provide. There may be a need to update products or services or create new products, any changes made thus far need to be made clear to all returning staff.

  • New Software means New challenges

With the introduction of remote working, many businesses have introduced new software. Furloughed staff may not have used or been aware of this new software, they will need access and may need help initially understanding it, make sure this help is easily accessible.

  • Remember adaption takes time

After such an unprecedented event, it will take everyone time to re-adjust back into a routine and their new roles, make sure to give everyone the time they need to adapt, and remember it will take everyone a different amount of time.