5 Ways to Stop Your Furloughed Employees From Firing You
Being furloughed affects different employees in different ways. Some are grateful, understanding that with the company experiencing hard times, it could have been worse. Others are disappointed that managers don’t see them as absolutely essential. Financial stresses associated with being furloughed can push some to seek work elsewhere, perhaps for a better salary. The ease of job-seeking with the internet and social media makes this search all the more convenient. With all these factors in play, it’s important to do everything you can to earn your furloughed employees’ continued loyalty.
Where do you start? Here are five essential focus areas:
1. Provide new growth opportunities.
Those in entry-level positions, especially, are prioritising career growth and job security more than ever, for obvious reasons: the COVID-19 fallout is the second record-setting economic crisis millennials have lived through, and they don’t take the future for granted. Additionally, the global cost of living has risen while entry-level wages have stagnated. Moving up may be your fresh young talent’s only hope of accumulating savings or moving away from mum and dad’s.
As an employer, you can show them that their career growth is as high a priority for you as it is for them. Initiate conversations about what they enjoy in their current position, and find out what they’re interested in learning more about. Make the path to promotion clear for those suited to follow it. If they see a future with your company, they’re more likely to stick it out through the hard times.
2. Pay employees what they’re worth.
About a third of those who leave a job today do so because of higher compensation elsewhere. Again, the rising cost of living has made better-than-average pay not just a perk, but a deciding factor for most job seekers.
To whatever extent it makes sense for your business, base pay should be based on the cost of living where most of your workers are located. Use The Living Wage Foundation figures or a similar application as a guideline. And give monthly bonuses to your MVPs, even a small amount like £100 will make a difference.
3. Prioritise employees’ health and well-being.
Most executives agree that strong employee wellness programs can prevent burnout and help workers at every level feel more satisfied with their jobs. In addition to the standard benefits package, consider including an ounce of prevention in the form of gym memberships or optional exercise or meditation classes on the company campus. If your employees have built a healthy lifestyle around their existing job, they’ll be less willing to give it up for an opportunity elsewhere.
While we’re on the subject, it should go without saying in these times that adequate paid sick leave for all employees is essential. Demonstrate a commitment to your teams’ safety by making sick leave accessible and risk-free, being as flexible as is feasible about requests to work from home, and keeping everyone informed about preventing the spread of germs around the office. These measures are particularly essential if anyone in your company has a chronic illness or other disability that impacts their health, if you give them the accommodations to do their jobs as easily as their colleagues without making them fight for them, they can become some of your most loyal employees.
4. Put yourself in employees’ shoes.
Some of your employees’ jobs are easy, right? Wrong. People are too quick to judge how easy others’ roles are – in fact, some of your employees might even think you have it easy. Happily, there’s a way to clear up those misconceptions, and you can have some fun doing it. In fact, it’s a tradition that dates back hundreds of years.
Once a year (maybe on Twelfth Night, since that’s when they did it in the old days) have the ‘world turn upside down’ and the leaders in your company switch roles with their employees. This will give them a chance to walk in each other’s shoes and develop empathy for each other. Employees will gain a new understanding of how hard it is to lead a team, and leaders will get first-hand experience of the challenges their employees face.
5. Praise people frequently for good work
Your staff need to know that what they do at work matters. If you’re not clearly communicating how they make a difference to your organisation, they’ll go to an organisation that does. Consciously make time to thank people for their work and let them know they’re doing a good job. And don’t just tell them they’re an important part of the team – explain why.
Even after the furlough furore has blown over, employee retention is likely to become harder, not easier, in the coming years. It’s your employer brand versus other companies who are doing their best to poach your talent. So make sure you remember the five Ps and give your people five good reasons to stay with you.