Communicating with Furloughed Employees In A Crisis

Communicating with Furloughed Employees In A Crisis 600 400 Balance Point Team

Nearly every business who experienced considerable revenue losses due to the coronavirus pandemic weighed some heavy options: furloughs, hour reductions, or layoffs. 

If your business is considering furloughing employees, it’s important to clarify the difference between furloughs vs. layoffs to your employees.

A furlough is a mandatory, yet temporary, unpaid leave and often is the best option for businesses that can afford them. 

If your business has determined that furloughs are the right decision, it’s important to remember that furloughed employees are still employed. Listening to them, understanding how they’re feeling, and responding to the challenges they’re facing are all vital in the uncertain times we’re in.

Not knowing if their job loss is permanent or temporary isn’t something that your employees should have to deal with. So make sure to be clear with them on how you are moving forward so that they can plan accordingly.

Provide a Game Plan

Communicate early and often. Employers who are furloughing workers should provide as much advance notice as possible. 

Leadership may want to withhold information because the financial picture is unclear and feel it’s best to wait until they have all of the facts. This may come back to bite them as employees may interpret that as hiding information.

Management experts recommend announcing the decision, even if you don’t have all of the facts readily available. According to a Harvard Business Review on how to make furloughs more humane, research has shown that employees are more likely to trust their managers when they feel the information exercised has been fair. 

Keep In Touch

To make the furlough easier for your employees, establish someone in a position of authority to communicate about the crisis and the company’s response. Consider setting up a frequent and consistent communication schedule to ensure your employees know and feel that they are valued.

Ensure everyone has the same, correct information to keep the rumor mill from kicking into action. Establish a dedicated page on your intranet where furloughed employees can receive company updates. The deeper the level of detail, the better.

Even after the crisis and furlough has ended, employees will need frequent and transparent communication. Consider piecing together plans to raise employee morale to ease worries about the future once your employees return to work.

Set Up Two-Way Communication

The key to all of this is communication and staying connected.

Unfortunately, as an employer you can’t erase the inevitable pain that furloughs cause employees. Set up a process that allows employees to ask questions, pose concerns, and receive answers from someone with authority or knowledge.

Keeping your employees engaged and connected is crucial for the long-term health of your organization.

Having the right plan can mean the difference between surviving and thriving

Balance Point is here to assist employers during and after the COVID-19 crisis. To help, we’ve compiled the best advice to steer your workplace toward recovery. Get started here: COVID-19 Resources Archives

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