How to bring employees back from furlough

Are you hoping to welcome your employees back to the workplace soon, after a period of working from home or furlough leave? If so, it may be beneficial to consider what steps you can take to help their return go as smoothly as possible. Derived from the term onboarding, in recent months this concept has become more commonly known as “reboarding” and can help employees to settle back in again after a period away from the workplace.


Here are five key steps to reboarding for employers:

1. Discuss Timescales

Many employees may be very keen to get back to the workplace as soon as possible, and in most cases furlough leave agreements and contracts of employment will enable employers to give very little notice to employees of a requirement to return (although do check any documents you have issued).


However, in some cases asking an employee to come back tomorrow may be problematic.

  • Have they had sufficient opportunity to arrange childcare?
  • Are they signed up to volunteer at the vaccination centre?
  • Have they taken second jobs to supplement their income?

Speaking to employees as soon as you are able to about proposed plans may be helpful. Things can be subject to change, and so if you cannot guarantee a return date, it is ok to be open about this also.


2. IT & Equipment

Have you ever come back from a fortnight’s holiday and struggled to remember your password? If so, you can probably imagine how hard it might be to remember after months of furlough leave! As such, having the number of the IT Helpdesk to hand, or details of how to reset their password, would be very helpful to the returning employee when they first arrive back.


It is also helpful to check if the employee has access to all of the equipment they need – it might be that they need to be issued with new things, such as an individual hand sanitiser or PPE, or maybe some things will have been “relocated” away from their desk or work area while they were away!


3. Covid-Safe Briefing

The workplace may be a very different place to the one the employee left in terms of Covid-safe procedures, and so employees returning to work will need a covid-safe briefing at the start of their first day back. Some employees may be more anxious than others, and this is an opportunity to understand any concerns they may have.


4. News Update

2020 and the start of 2021 have been times of significant change for many businesses, and employees returning from furlough leave may not be aware of:

  • Current projects
  • Leavers and joiners
  • Updates to policies and procedures.

A meeting with their manager to go through these things and ask questions will help to ensure that they are aligned to the organisation’s current priorities.


5. How Are They?

In the same way that a lot may have changed in the organisation, a lot may have also changed for the individual employee. Have they been able to stay well? Have they experienced a bereavement? Are they facing any challenges currently, such as taking on additional care for a relative? A one-to-one meeting between the returning employee and their line manager can be key to finding out any important news, and support the employee may need.


It’s important to remember that how employees are treated whilst returning to the business may impact on your long-term retention of employees in the future. If you have any questions or concerns about welcoming employees back to the workplace, View HR are here to help – please contact us for a discussion.

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