Learning & Development, Talent

Keeping Employees Engaged During Furlough

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on individual companies has been largely dependent on the industry in which a company does business. While white-collar industries have largely been able to maintain a semblance of business as usual through remote work and online retailers have been doing quite well in many cases, the hospitality industry has been hit particularly hard.

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While industry experts and economic observers certainly expect some long-term impacts to last well beyond the point the COVID-19 pandemic is under control, much of the disruption is temporary.

Many businesses that have had to limit capacity or shut their doors entirely have put staff on furlough, temporarily eliminating their positions with the expectation they will be brought back to work in the relatively near future.

Connecting with Furloughed Workers

As the pandemic drags on amid economic and political uncertainty, companies are facing the prospect of those furloughed employees becoming disengaged, of their skills going soft, and of employees finding work elsewhere. The challenge for companies, managers, and HR departments is how to keep those furloughed employees engaged so they can hit the ground running when they get back to the office.

One key point to remember is that furloughed employees shouldn’t be treated with an out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality. While we can’t and shouldn’t expect them to do any actual work while furloughed, companies can still keep them engaged.

A Focus on Engagement

“While a furloughed team member cannot work, there’s no reason they can’t keep their mind engaged or work towards self-improvement,” says Julie Cameron in an article for Training Journal. “Businesses that are able to supply their furloughed team with little goodwill gestures or resources to keep them engaged will really help those employees feel valued.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on industries, organizations, and individual employees around the globe. While many changes are likely to be long-lasting, most will ultimately revert back to some semblance of “normal.”

For companies looking to reintegrate furloughed workers, efforts to keep them engaged while they are furloughed can help shorten the reintegration timeline.