Recent research shows that 54% of staff currently supported by the government’s furlough scheme are worried about their future and career prospects. The research, conducted by Adzuna, also found that over two fifths (44%) of those still at work are concerned that their jobs are also at risk as we face an economic downturn. 

As many of us deal with the daily reality of the ongoing pandemic crisis, employee engagement expert Sodexo Engage has put together four simple strategies for employers to help their staff remain happy and motivated during the uncertainty. Sodexo Engage has highlighted some top tips that can help keep employees positive and productive whilst keeping all staff in the know and feeling supported.   

1.       Communication is king  

It feels like this is talked about a lot, but in these unique circumstances, the importance of consistent communication can’t be overstated. It’s a busy time for employers as they try to steady the ship, but the workforce is perhaps the most important ‘tool’ for doing this successfully so it’s worth making sure they’re always up to date. This includes keeping them in the loop on business strategy as well as reassuring them on the steps being taken in accordance with government guidelines. Keeping all furloughed staff informed on these updates is vital– it goes a long way to abetting any fears that they are being forgotten about.  

2.       Be fully transparent  

Coming hand-in-hand with the first point, employers need to be fully transparent in their communication with staff. The truth will always come out in the end, so it’s worth beating the rumour mill and being honest from the start. Employers can find this daunting as they are concerned about the impact on morale and their future prospects, but the reality is that it builds a sense of trust amongst staff and, more often than not, they appreciate the straight talking. If they know the lie of the land, it helps them to feel as though they can make plans to deal with the uncertainty personally. 

  1. Listen, and act accordingly  

A problem shared is a problem halved – an old saying that rings true right now! Listening to your staff and giving them a platform to voice their concerns will go a long way to helping any worries feel more manageable. Whether its concerns around job security or worries about financial security, employers may be able to support their staff or steer them in the direction of a particular benefit or company initiative they didn’t know existed that would help. Encourage regular formal and informal dialogue between managers and managees to make sure that everyone feels heard. 

4.       Offer further support where needed 

Needless to say, this is a very strange time for everyone and each staff member will have different mentalities and coping mechanisms. Not everything can be solved in the workplace, but employers can offer so much additional support. A dedicated Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) can give employees access to professional mental health support in the form of accredited counsellors, who can be on hand over the phone or on virtual platforms like Zoom, or perhaps offering access to some sort of financial advice would be welcomed to help deal with the reality of the economic downturn. Any offerings that help staff deal with the cause of their concern will help enormously. 

Jamie Mackenzie, Director at Sodexo Engage, comments:  

“We’re experiencing unprecedented circumstances and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed at times while letting uncertainty and worry anxieties takeover completely. It’s hardly surprising that those on furlough feel this more; employers need to be taking proactive steps to combat these feelings for both those still working and those on furlough. Employers have little control on the current crisis, but they do have control over how their business weathers the storm, and that includes how it helps and supports its staff. Taking the above steps will help build a sense of trust, and give staff the tools needed to abate their worries which is vital for wellbeing.”