How to re-induct furloughed employees

What do you imagine Liverpool football club manager Jurgen Klopp is doing today? Or England rugby coach Eddie Jones? Or David Brailsford, the head of the Team Ineos cycling team?

All of the players in their high-performing teams are trying to stay fit at home but are unable to compete. But you know that these sporting leaders aren’t sat at home sipping on a glass of wine and enjoying the sunshine. They are working as hard as usual to plan for the return to competitive sport.

Of course, as a business leader, you’re doing just the same. You’re working hard and doing all you can to ensure your business survives and thrives when the world starts to re-open for business.

What’s interesting to me is how businesses are going to bring their teams back together again after a period of furlough and remote working, with maybe some people having been made redundant.

Those first days back in the office are going to feel like starting school again after the summer holidays. It’s going to be different. People have got into new habits at home. And everyone is going to have to readjust back to normal, or the new version of normal.

To get people back into work again, it’s going to be important for leaders to re-induct teams back to the business.

So what are the things you can do to plan for the return to work for your furloughed employees, and even your remote workers?

First, to continue the sporting metaphor, you can prepare them with some pre-season training. Of course, employees on furlough can’t work. But you can continue to communicate with them and keep them informed about how the business is doing and what you’re doing to prepare for the future.

Second, you can support them with the worries they have about returning to work. Many of them will be concerned about their job security, particularly with all the news about the economic situation coming out each day. And they will be fearful of their health and safety when they do return to the workplace. So as well we getting your house in order (literally) you can be sharing your plan to create a safe and healthy workplace for those coming back.

Third, once you’ve done that, you can move onto more practical matters. Has your Vision and Mission for your business changed? Even if it hasn’t, your team might wonder if it has, so tell them. Revisit your Vision and Mission and share it with them again.

Fourth, that same principle applies to your company’s core values. These are unlikely to have changed, so restate these to your people and remind them of the attributes of the company that they chose and that chose them.

And lastly, five, the final part of this process is to look at shorter-term Key Objectives and Goals. There’s a good chance these will have changed as a result of the pandemic crisis and the economic impact of it – few companies have been left unaffected. So, one of the first things to do on your people’s return to work is a new goal-setting process.

All of this is intended to get your people comfortable with their return to work and giving them the feelings of security, direction, focus and ambition. If you get this right, they’ll come back to the workplace and be able to hit the ground running.

That’s my formula for Championship winning form!

Posted by Pete Wilkinson

15 May 2020

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