The last week in February was a week in which the Prime Minister presented to the nation the government’s roadmap out of lockdown. There are still hurdles to jump over, things to navigate through and surely more bumps in the road along the way as we head towards the 21st June but this roadmap really does allow us all to concentrate on ensuring we are following the governments guidelines and doing our bit to help ensure we don’t head back into lockdown again in the future.
Whilst as individuals we are all planning things that we can do with our friends and families post June 2021, employers also need to focus on things that they need to consider as people return to the office, either because they have been working from home or placed on furlough. Just a few of these considerations are highlighted below.
Many employees across many different industry types and sectors have been furloughed since March/April 2020. These furloughed employees have likely gone through a roller coaster of emotions throughout this time and perhaps have asked themselves some of the following questions:
- How can I keep a roof over my head and pay my bills?
- When will/can I go back to work?
- What will work be like when I return?
- How will I get back into the routine of work?
- How is my mental health and wellbeing?
Employers need to be mindful of all the above in relation to the employees who are returning to work and exploring methods and services that they can use and adopt to try to alleviate these understandable concerns and anxieties.
However, it is also of equal importance that employers are mindful of the employees that have been working throughout the pandemic also. These employees may:
- not have had a break from work in the traditional way with a holiday abroad or something similar which has allowed them to try and switch off and unwind. As a result, could they be physically and/or mentally fatigued or burning out?
- be suffering from ‘guilt’ in that their financial and mental wellbeing could be at a comparative higher level than a colleague by virtue of the fact that they have been working and therefore receiving a full salary whereas a colleague has not
- feel worried about potential conflict with returning employees in terms of job roles and ‘who does’ what on an ongoing basis. Will things just go back to how they were or have things changed?
Undoubtedly there will be requests from employees to employers about potentially working from home and employers need to be mindful of how they handle these requests for not only the employees who have enquired about this change in daily routine but also the colleagues of the employees and what effect, positively or negatively this could have on them.
Finally, but certainly no less important than any of the points raised above is motivation. How will Employers motivate their workforce to ‘hit the ground running’ and help get the business back to where it was heading pre-lockdown? Pay awards and the like will be tough to give if the turnover and resulting profits are not there at an initial stage and offering additional holiday or time off as a reward incentive may not necessarily be a prudent step from an operational point of view.
For employers to try and navigate a way through the above conundrums alone is going to be more difficult than ever and therefore now more than ever is the time for employers to call on its professional connections and business advisers whether this be employment lawyers, business advisers, bank managers, payroll experts, employee benefit consultants to share with you what other employers are doing, what services are out there to help you and understand what services you already have but have not tapped into?
There is certainly no one size fits all in answering any of the above, so I encourage all employers to simply ask the question of your professional advisers, Can you help us?
If any of the help required from an employer is in relation to Employee Benefits including workplace pensions, please reach out to Wingate Benefit Solutions on 01883 332260 or at firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our team would be delighted to help.