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Re-onboarding your employees back to work after furlough

Onboarding — the process of welcoming and equipping new employees — can make a huge impact on your employee retention rates and productivity levels. 

But what about re-onboarding after a period of absence or time away from the physical workplace? If your business will be welcoming back staff who had been furloughed during 2020, then handling the process well can result in boosted morale and engagement – and better results for your business.

Notice period

You’ll need to provide furloughed staff with written notice about the end of their furlough period. This needs to be in line with the furlough agreement you’ve made with them.

This written notice should also explain the where, when and how of returning to work. As many things will probably have changed in the past few months, you should assume nothing and include as much information as you can.

Follow this up with a phone call to make sure employees are comfortable with the details of heading back to work.

Don’t forget the basics

If employees are heading back to an office or shared environment, you’ll need to cover all the essentials of safe working, social distancing and any new procedures you’ve brought in.

If they’ll be working remotely, make sure you have health and safety protocols in place to ensure their work environment will be well equipped, conducive to good work and productivity. 

Time to re-envision

But remember this is also a time to motivate, engage and envision team members who’ve been furloughed. Reiterate your company culture and values in every way you can. Make sure that staff have a clear idea of the big picture, and how their work is helping to achieve it.

Communicate any changes that may have happened as a result of the pandemic; processes or systems that you now do differently, and ensure staff are fully trained in these changes. 

Provide support as employees adapt

This year has forced us all to adapt in some way, and the workplace is no different. Remember to be flexible and available to listen as employees adapt back into work. 

Book regular check-ins, and be aware that even very independent, self-starting employees might need more support and assurance than usual during this time.

Consider specific skills gaps

If this season has flagged up any obvious skills gaps, then this could be the perfect time to address them. Providing re-onboarded staff with training can help fill your skills gaps, while motivating and engaging returning workers.

Are you bringing employees back from furlough? If you’re looking for the tools and strategies to make it as effective as possible, our brand new HR Guidance documents contain everything you need to know about reboarding and engaging your employees so that they hit the ground running on their return to the workplace.

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