Helping staff to embrace furlough

Whilst some CEOs make grand gestures on personal salary cuts or freezes to help business cashflow throughout the Corona Virus Crisis, others are having to furlough a large percentage of their employees. In a recent CIPD survey of 301 UK companies, 52% confirmed that they intend to furlough staff. A number of HorrexCole’s clients are in the process of furloughing and emotional reactions from staff to this news have been mixed; some relief and understanding but some sadness and even anger. As a leader, how can you help your people who make up the very essence of your company to embrace furlough?

In talking to a range of contacts of the HorrexCole team, both business and personal, a need for a personal, caring approach seems to yield the most favourable reaction. We’ve formalised this into a four-stage approach:

  1. Break it to them gently – explain what furlough means for that member of staff individually and tell them why you are furloughing them. This will be received much more positively if done via a personal call with the member of staff’s line manager, rather than by text or email.
  2. Reassure the employee of their value to the business – Thank them for their ongoing contribution in the workplace with personal examples of achievement and reassure them how valuable they are to the future success of the business. This will reiterate the business intention to continue a partnership with them long-term. Helping them to understand that the business is furloughing in order to protect their jobs for the future will provide piece of mind for them.
  3. Talk them through the timescales – Explain the uncertainty of the situation with a rough guide on how long they can expect to be furloughed initially and give timescales of how often this will be reviewed and how that might be communicated with them. Ensure that all details of this are sent in writing after the call to look through in detail. If your employee is surprised that they are being furloughed, this will give them something to direct attention to and digest once the conversation has ended.
  4. Inspire them to take advantage of furlough – Knowing your staff well will help in highlighting the potential benefits of furlough. Involving a line manager who has a close relationship with the individual will help to make this process more personal. Encourage staff to progress themselves both personally and professionally in this unexpected time of quiet; with the right spin, it could be seen as a magical opportunity to fulfil a longstanding goal. The prospect of spending extra time reconnecting with friends and family will appeal to some, whilst others may relish the chance to skill up with an online professional course. Help your staff to spot that opportunity and embrace it with a positive mindset.

Michelle Peagam, Director of HorrexCole comments: “I think employees’ ability to positively embrace furlough will stem in part from their experience of going through the furloughing process. Firms can go a long way to making this experience a positive one, reassuring them and inspiring them to use this time to their advantage. We have clients that are employing thoughtful tactics like giving staff access to training and learning portals whilst they are off. As always, a personal and thoughtful approach helps people to come to terms with change more easily.”


HorrexCole is delighted to be doing our little bit to help! Our sister company, eSift, is offering FREE recruitment CV sifting and shortlisting services for those companies needing to hire at volume quickly to provide support during these challenging times. Companies can use this service from now until the end of April for a day, a week, or a month…Whatever they need. If interested, please get in touch.

HorrexCole is a boutique executive search firm offering research, talent mapping and comprehensive search solutions. Our unique pricing model has NO upfront retainer or cancellation fees offering clients a fair and flexible solution at this unpredictable time.

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