End of Furlough

29 October 2020

Neil Bestford | 3 simple but crucial ways to support your employees

Stop, breath and pause for a moment.

Putting myself in your shoes, I understand as an HR manager work will be frantic right now. The government’s Job Retention Scheme (JRS) or ‘furlough scheme’ has been a lifeline to around 1.2 million firms during the coronavirus crisis, but the end of the scheme is now days away.

If you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of businesses with furloughed staff I’m sure you will have its end date, the 31 October 2020, imprinted on your memory.

While, from a practical business perspective, you will have considered ‘what’s next’ when the scheme ends. Ask yourself, have you considered your approach with your employees?

We’re all human. Not a number. We respond to genuine connections. While your business may have hard decisions to make, I urge you NOT to mirror the Government’s lacklustre communications. Instead, go back to basics and think if the shoe was on the other foot, how would you like to be approached?

Now, there’s a lot to unpick but drawing on my experience of working with some of the North East’s top businesses, and the UK’s most prominent brands, I’ve outlined the three most crucial ways to support your employees over the coming months…

Be Kind

Remember, everyone is in the same storm, but we’re all in different boats.

Make sure you support your employees by ‘actively’ listening to them and their needs with empathy. By understanding the true reflection of their feelings, you can then respond appropriately to their situation.

Historically kindness is often considered a weakness in the world of business. I argue it’s one of your business’s greatest strengths. Just like ‘word of mouth’ kindness has a ripple effect and is highly valued.

Kindness is a strength. We need to be kind regardless of the other person’s feelings towards us. Even if another person is unkind – you have the power to be kind to them. Why? Because it is the right thing to do.

Be Honest

‘Honesty is the best policy’ isn’t just cliche. It’s good business practice.

Honesty has always been a core value for me, with every team and business I’ve worked with. Why? All too often in times of stress and change, communication suffers.

Make sure that you communicate with your employees, openly and honestly. Don’t sugar coat it. Give them all of the facts, even if it’s bad news. Ask yourself what’s worse: Making a problem known upfront, or delaying it (and its solution) so the aftermath is far worse than it had to be?

Be Flexible

We’re all weathering this storm differently and have distinctive personal needs during this time.

Try to be as flexible as possible with your employees, whether you offer alternative working hours, or allow a bit of extra downtime – they’ll appreciate you for it.

Flexibility can boost morale; help to alleviate stress; encourage a healthy work/life balance as well as help build trust and commitment – even in the most challenging of times.

Overall, flexibility can improve the lives of your employees. And that has a domino effect that is undeniable for your business in the long-term.

I hope you have found this a useful read. If you want to find out more or would like some support, feel free to contact me for some no-obligation practical advice. I’m happy to help.