5 ways to manage returning employees
As lockdown eases and businesses of all types can return to work, employees need to be treated fairly and with respect.
Some employees may be anxious about returning to work at all; others may want to renegotiate working conditions so that they can work more often from home. Employees who have been shielding since March will be able to go back to work from August, and will need significant support in order to do so.
So, what must you do to manage these issues to make sure that your employees are taken care of and their concerns heard, whilst also making sure that your business can continue to run smoothly?
- Understand individual positions
It’s important that employers listen to the individual concerns of employees. In smaller businesses, line managers, HR managers and even Managing Directors can have individual conversations with employees to find out how they feel about returning. In larger businesses, every employee should have the opportunity to express any concerns they have about returning to work.
- Vary work patterns for furloughed workers
The changes in the government’s furlough scheme come into force in July. From then, employers can bring furloughed workers back into the business for any amount of time, whilst still claiming furlough payments for time not worked. Just as employees needed to agree to be put on furlough in the first place, they will need to agree the way in which they come back, particularly if they have anxieties as carers for vulnerable people.
- Consider parental and carer responsibilities
With schools unlikely to return to full opening until September, those caring for children may need to be more flexible in their working patterns. Employers need to think about the circumstances of these employees and be as flexible as possible with encouraging return to work, varying contracts if necessary to protect the jobs of employees who need to continue flexible or home working in order to manage childcare.
- Communicate clearly and often
One of the most common complaints from employees at times of change is the lack of communication. It’s extremely important to keep employees in the loop about your progress both in terms of returning to work and in terms of risk assessments and health and safety. Encouraging employees to ask questions and make suggestions about how they can work safely and productively will engage them in the process of returning to work and give them the information they need to make the right decisions about their own return.
- Embrace new ways of working
Many employers have discovered that businesses can operate even when the office is shut. You may have discovered ways to streamline your processes or to save money on your office rental. The fact that everyone is now used to holding virtual meetings means that daily face-to-face working may not be as vital as before, and you now have the opportunity to improve productivity. Whilst for some businesses this may mean an eventual reduction in the workforce, for many employers, this presents an opportunity to save money, do things better and offer more flexibility to employees.
Finally, remember that the negotiations and contract variations you make may only be temporary, so you’ll need to set review dates with each individual and keep track of how the new arrangements are working.
For help and advice with helping your employees return to work, just contact us today.