3 ways companies can engage and connect with furloughed employees
From major airlines to retail stores, millions of employees are still furloughed due to the coronavirus pandemic. While some have returned to work, others are still wondering when, and if, they’ll get their jobs back.
“They have the uncertainty of not knowing when they will be able to go back to work, but they still need to provide for their family and pay their bills,” says Stacy Bolger, vice president of global employee experience at InMoment, a Utah-based customer feedback management company. “They may love what they do and the organization they work with, but basic human needs are going to overtake those other preferences at this point, especially given that we're several months into this.”
Bolger says there will likely be a large shift toward job seeking, where workers look for job opportunities outside of their realm or industry, potentially forcing them to take a lower paying or skilled job just to provide for basic health and safety needs. This will not only cause a decrease in retention, but also in engagement, she says.
“I think we are going to see employee retention numbers really start to take a hit because of that uncertainty,” she says. “Where people were willing to hold out in the beginning, the luxury of holding out is likely not going to be maintained for very much longer.”
For employers who are hoping to hire back high achievers, staying in contact with their furloughed employees is key. Company-wide emails can quickly provide helpful information, but they typically don’t address the individual questions or concerns of furloughed employees, which can lead to frustration and feelings of neglect. Instead, businesses should stabilize employee morale by personalized outreach for those that hope to return, Bolger says.
“The more personalized and direct that we can be with this group of individuals — whether that be letters, email or phone calls — that's going to be the better route to go,” she says.
In a one-on-one interview, Bolger shared three ways companies can manage the engagement as well as retention of furloughed employees.