Posted by Laura Williams
16th September, 2020

Insights supporting team wellbeing after furlough

Returning to the workplace: supporting your team after furlough

At Feel-Good Brands we champion the brands that matter; businesses that are working hard to affect positive change and make the world a better place. But it’s not always external, positive change starts from within. That’s why purpose-driven brands like Patagonia have paved the way for ethic-centric business by focussing on people and how they treat their staff.

People before profit

As well as designing durable and sustainable outdoor clothing, Patagonia is famous for the way in which they manage and treat their employees. In establishing a “management philosophy,” Patagonia’s employees are encouraged to go surfing when there are waves, go skiing when there’s powder, and choose if they’d like to wear shoes in the office or not, even bring the kids to the office. Patagonia has repeatedly won awards as one of the best places to work. It’s founder, Yvon Chounaird, is true to his word; he cares about both people and planet.

Insights yvon chounaird

The global pandemic has hit many businesses hard, both financially and culturally. And while not all businesses have the capacity to be as flexible as Patagonia just yet, it’s even more important now that employers check in on the wellbeing of their team.

Out of office

As we emerge from what has felt like a never-ending state of lockdown limbo, many of us are starting to return to work. This is a relief for many company owners and employees, keen to get back to business as usual and ride the economic storm together. But it also brings new challenges for employers who need to manage the physical health and mental wellbeing of their teams as they readjust to yet another new norm.

For many employees an extended pause from work has been a totally alien experience. Where some have perhaps enjoyed their time out, others have struggled with the experience and the uncertainty, so employers need to support their teams to ensure a safe, smooth and happy return to the workplace.

Communication

Employers need to be mindful of the varying circumstances in which staff may find themselves on their return to the workplace. Many could be suffering with mental health concerns, while others might struggle to adapt to the pace of working life after such a long layoff. Your team is likely to return to work in a multitude of different headspaces. Therefore, clear communication is imperative.

Organising weekly one-to-one check-ins to talk to employees on an individual basis is a constructive way to show that you genuinely care for their wellbeing. It’s also a positive way to remind them that you appreciate their value at the company. Organising group and all-staff meetings could be another supportive way of keeping employees up to date on the company’s future and any upcoming changes. Communication will play a crucial role in reinforcing a sense of unity after an extended time of separation.

Team building

At a time where working from home has become the new norm, reuniting staff who have long been separated should be a cause for celebration — allocate time to rebuild company culture and strengthen staff morale. It’s also important to think about how furloughed and working-from-home staff begin collaborating again. It‘s possible that different circumstances have created feelings of resentment among the team, particularly where some colleagues continued working while others spent a few months away from the job or studying at home. Furloughed staff, on the other hand, may have been feeling the anxiety of job security and an uncertain future. Whether it’s at the pub, in the park or even an away day somewhere new, team building activities are an effective way to restore relationships and confidence, leaving people feeling rejuvenated with a new energy, focus and motivation.

Wellbeing

Wellbeing is a fundamental part of our physical and mental health. It enables us to feel happiness, positivity and balance in our busy lives. Helping your team to make small adjustments in their mindset and build new actions into their day-to-day lives can make finding a healthy work-life-balance easier as they adjust to a new norm. Research shows that keeping fit or reconnecting with nature can be beneficial for health and wellbeing. That could be getting outdoors for team walks, offering mindfulness sessions, or even yoga classes, there are many ways that you can support the mental and physical wellbeing of your employees as they return to the workplace.

Recent studies have revealed that one in two people in the UK have reported feeling down, depressed or hopeless about the future due to the COVID-19 crisis. So now, perhaps more than ever, you need to pay close attention to your team’s wellbeing and mental health.