Managing a divided workforce

Written by Tracey Flannery on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

A year ago many of us didn’t even know what a furlough scheme was and now it has proved to be a lifesaver for many business but it has come with some difficult decisions and had some unexpected impacts on morale and team dynamics.

  • Employees who have not been furloughed have had very high workloads, often taking on accountability that previously wasn’t theirs.
  • Employees who were/are furloughed might have felt/feel helpless and less valuable.
  • Furloughed people may be worried that they would be/will be first in the line for any potential job cuts.
  • There may be resentment or frustration towards those who have still been involved in the business and know what’s going on.
  • There may be resentment towards those who had/are having ‘time off’ whilst being paid to stay at home.

All of this and more needs handling carefully and has the potential to cause tension and conflict leading to impacts on engagement and productivity.  As Employee Engagement specialists, we are always big on team engagement but now more than ever it’s crucial that you focus on engagement. Here’s some ideas:

  • Communication is everything – do your best to reassure and make people feel valued.
  • Build in time for extra team meetings, huddles, catch ups and give people the opportunity to ask questions and share concerns.
  • Avoid small problems becoming a bigger issue – deal with them, open and honest conversations are key. We deliver lots on this so give us a shout if your team could do with an update and some practice.
  • How about a re-onboarding strategy? Get your team involved in what’s needed.
  • Develop handover plans so all know and understand their responsibilities, especially any changes.
  • Prioritise time with furloughed staff to bring them back up to speed, be sensitive and flexible and make sure they know they are integral to the business.
  • Spend time with none furloughed staff to re-distribute the right parts of their workload.
  • Communicating both short and long term goals to provide clarity will be important.
  • Reassure your people they will always be treated fairly
  • Team building sessions and activities – we can help! We have a 10-session programme with each 2-hour session running every 2/3 weeks​ and it has been very impactful. Each session combines development and action learning to create a sense of team and support for your Managers or your team. ​
  • Buddy up furloughed and non-furlough team members
  • Rewards and recognition will be important, especially if you can find a way to honour your non-furloughed people.
  • Lastly, a great opportunity to ditch obsolete working practices and embrace better ways of working. Empower your team to get them talking and working together on re-designing their work practices and solve problems.

Remember that emotional support might be needed, there’s been a lot going on and many people might be struggling. There is always a friendly ear here if you want to chat through any development, engagement or training issues.

There are plenty of opportunities for funded development and engagement work too. Keep an eye out for what’s available and coming up in your area. Businesses in the Leeds City Region can access 40% funding towards the training investment with us at Pro-Development.   Click here for more information



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