How to Support the Wellbeing of Employees on Furlough during Lockdown
Now that about 80% of UK workers are on Furlough and there is no formal end to the restriction on work and travel by the government, businesses need to take appropriate measures to look after the wellbeing of their employees.
Being on furlough is unusual and many workers may start feeling worried and depressed, even as they sit back at home. Even those who aren’t on furlough may be feeling some form of resentment, fear, and frustration.
This simply means employees need more support from their employers during this period more than ever before.
What does it mean to be on Furlough?
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, many businesses have been unable to operate. This led the UK government to initiate the current Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (commonly known as the furlough scheme). This scheme allows all employers in the UK to access support to keep paying part of their employee’s salaries instead of laying them off due to a halt in business activities. This is what “being on furlough” means.
So after agreeing with your employees to be classified as “furloughed workers,” you can gain access to the job retention scheme and pay up to 80% of your employee’s wages. And this can add up to £2,500 on a monthly basis.
How can you look after the Wellbeing of your employees on furlough?
The truth is that placing employees on furlough is not enough to help Yea, a lot of them would still see this scheme in different ways. Although some may get a sense of relief from work for some time, still some may be worried about losing their job even after the coronavirus lockdown. Others may start feeling they are not an important part of a team for being classified as a “furloughed worker.”
However, many furloughed workers during this period of lockdown may have a mixture of these emotions, from the beginning of the agreement until the end of the period. This can have an adverse effect on their state of mind and wellbeing, while the lockdown and global situation itself can create feelings of isolation, depression, and loneliness.
How Businesses can look after the Wellbeing of their Employees
As, an employer or manager, you can support the wellbeing of furloughed workers through the following measures:
Maintain Good Communication
While you might feel uncertain about this period, it is important to know that your employees are also feeling the same way- but one difference is that your employees are likely to feel deprived of access to all information. And when workers, feel this way, it can lead to frustration and depression.
That’s why you need to be open and transparent with furloughed employees. It makes them trust you more and feel more loyal to the company. More so, good communication helps your employees understand why the business needs support, how they can help, and how their actions can help the company become better after this period.
Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP)
Normally, every staff should enjoy EAPs at any time, but this period is a very good time to encourage the use of it. You can give furloughed workers access to their employee assistance program to help look after their wellbeing. This is a good way for them to get help on any worries or concerns they may be experiencing, whether on their employment, emotions, financial needs, health, or relationship issues.
An EAP is meant to provide a confidential listening ear, so make sure your employees are aware of the benefits that they stand to gain.
You can also provide insurance cover or specialist support to help employees who are in need.
Encourage Employees to Train on New Technology or Skill set
This period is a good opportunity for employees to get good training in new technology and develop their skills. These may be work-related or pertinent to other aspects of their life.
This process of learning or development helps to keep the brains of your employees active and distract them from the worries of this uncertain period.
So you can talk to employees about any skills that interest them or have a close discussion to make plans on what may benefit their progression.
You can provide access to any e-learning programmes or create a learning budget and to encourage employees to enjoy its benefits. However, if you don’t have any learning resources in place, you can simply put together a list of some free online resources that would be highly useful for employees. This helps to improve their wellbeing and make them a better person for the future.
Keep Social Calls Active
You will be helping the self-esteem of furloughed workers when you let them join in any social calls that the team is having virtually. You can create awareness about the timing for daily or weekly calls and encourage them to join the chat.
If you feel like you need, you can also create time to play virtual games, hold a quiz, or host happy hours. You can encourage employees to share their pictures or videos of their painting skills, music skills. Also, you can also allow them to share the content of their favorite musician or movie.
This helps to tackle feelings of frustration and loneliness, and help them feel more connected with their team, thereby improving their wellbeing.
Encourage Employees to Enjoy Wellbeing-boosting Resources
There are so many benefits to exercise and wellbeing activities. You can encourage your employees to take advantage of free online wellness and fitness classes, or apps for meditation.
By giving them different options of these resources that they can enjoy from the comfort of their homes, you’re encouraging them to keep their bodies and minds active. And this brings a lot of flexibility that even the pickiest of employees will find a resource or activity that works perfectly for them.
Every employee or manager needs to consider the wellbeing of their workers during this period of coronavirus lockdown. Apart from putting employees on furlough, employers need to look after their workers by following the tips highlighted above to help them feel more confident about their job security and less-worried about the devastating effects of the global pandemic.