Welcoming back furloughed employees won’t be as simple as giving them a quick call and telling them to start on Monday. If you want to help them feel welcome and part of the team again, you’ll need to plan their reintegration.
Whether your employees have been furloughed these last 13 months or if they’ve been away from work for half the time, reintegration will be difficult.
As an employer it’s your job to welcome them back, reintroduce them to old colleagues and get them up to speed.
Put yourself in their shoes
For furloughed employees, finding out that they’re coming back to work could feel like a bit of a shock.
Returning after so long must be exciting but also very daunting. The anxiety of getting to know everyone again must be similar to how it feels starting a new job altogether!
Your furloughed employees could be living an entirely different life to the one they lived when working full-time. They could now be a parent, living in a new area or recovering from Covid-19 symptoms.
The best thing that you can do to support your employees in these early stages is to empathise and communicate well.
Whether you let them know the plan of action over the phone or in a meeting, be sure to prepare to answer lots of questions about:
- Health and safety measures
- Flexible working or new childcare arrangements
- Remote working
- Your business recovery plans
- What happens if there is another wave
- A gradual reintegration with reduced working hours
Plan the welcome
Welcoming back employees is cause to celebrate!
Social time will be a key part of the welcoming and reintegration process, so schedule it in!
Ideally bringing furloughed employees back to the office (even if it’s virtually) will involve lots of hugs and laughs. But in accordance with the latest guidance you need to limit this to 6 people indoors and 30 people outdoors, and social distancing at an in-person celebration will play a huge role.
A warm welcome can quickly become an overwhelming experience when we’ve been living in relative isolation for over a year, so be sure to strike a good balance of team and alone time, and consider smaller group catch ups first.
Here are our tips for the initial welcome:
- Plan a friendly team social
- Adhere to social distancing measures, and government guidance
- Make sure it’s not too overwhelming
- Ask your employees what they’re comfortable with and what they’d like to do
Plan the reintegration
Between the bursts of fun social excitement, reintegration will look very different.
It might look similar to your standard induction or post-leave reintegration process, so we would advise that you don’t try to reinvent the wheel and start there!
Odds are that your business has changed a lot in the last 13 months, so there’s a lot that your employees need to know, or key information that they might have forgotten.
Whether you plan to create a first week itinerary for your employees or leave the details up to them, be sure that they:
- Get any training they need on new processes and software they will be using
- Have formal team welcomes with all of your employees
- Have plenty of time for breaks, inbox emptying sessions and getting used to how things work
- Know about mental health support and how to access it
- Receive a lot of communication from their co-workers and from you!
Constant communication and empathy really are key when it comes to welcoming and reintegrating furloughed employees. If you need any help with the payroll aspect of bringing employees back after furlough, our HR software can make things a lot easier.