Returning to Work: How to Energise Your Team and Beat the Furlough Fog
Written on: 1 July 2020
Written by: Frances Hardcastle
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After weeks of handling the challenges of remote-working, furlough, Zoom-School and delivery-slot roulette, a growing number are launching their new normal and making a cautious return to office life.
Guiding your team through this transition isn’t an easy task – let’s face it. Working patterns are different, teams disparate and returns staggered. For every person who can’t wait to get back, there’s another with a serious case of the furlough fog. So how can you, as a manager, bring your team together and get back in the zone?
We have three top tips to make the journey back to normality run as smoothly as possible:
Create a safe environment for your team – physically and psychologically
Since mid-March the “Stay Home” message has had some serious airtime. For months, we’ve been bombarded with the idea that home is our only refuge from unseen dangers. It’s completely understandable that some of us are a little jittery about the idea of coming back to the office.
It’s a company’s legal duty to provide a safe workplace, putting measures in place to ensure the physical safety of their workforce. However, being Covid-safe doesn’t always equate to feeling safe – and if your team are on edge, they’re not going to give you their best work.
Try to ease the fear by checking in with individuals before and after the return to the office, explaining the measures you’ve introduced and listening to their concerns. Be mindful of personal circumstances, including caring responsibilities, and try to be flexible wherever the nature of work allows. Hold regular reviews and make any necessary adjustments to keep your team feeling safe and secure.
Establish shared goals
After so long away, your team is pretty much guaranteed to come back to a thousand emails and a totally different set of priorities. The next few months will be critical for many businesses, so it’s important to take the time to establish a clear vision for your department and bring your team up to speed.
Get their buy-in by focusing on the benefits of achieving tangible milestones and ensuring everyone understands how their contribution fits in. Banking some quick wins can be a useful motivational technique: set some straightforward projects with short-term deadlines and provide lots of positive feedback to rebuild confidence.
Focus on individual development
With redundancies beginning to creep into all sectors, your team may be different to the one you said goodbye to back in March – with colleagues left wondering if they may be next. While uncertainty can contribute to stress and underperformance, demonstrating investment in individual development can provide reassurance, make people feel valued, and boost your team with a blast of new energy and skills.
There are lots of options available when it comes to staff training and CPD. From self-directed online resources such as Google Digital Garage, to highly focused short courses and long-haul professional qualifications, you’re bound to find a training option suitable for all needs and budgets.
Advanced and Higher Apprenticeships can be an excellent and cost-effective tool when it comes to workforce development. These career development programmes build up technical expertise over several months, during which learners apply new skills and concepts to practical work-based projects for regular assessment.
Although many businesses are tightening their belts while they ride out the Coronavirus crisis, it’s useful to know that cost needn’t be a barrier to quality training. Apprenticeship training fees for large organisations are often pre-paid through your Apprenticeship Levy contributions, while smaller businesses can benefit from Government funding of up to 100%.
For many managers, this accessible training enables them to demonstrate commitment to their teams’ professional development through a low-cost, high-reward system.
Returning to work within a world revolving around Coronavirus uncertainty is never going to be easy, but through consistent communication, concrete goals, and going the extra mile to show they are valued, you should be confident that your team can bounce back better than ever.