There have been so many updates, information, amendments and clarification of the Corona Job Retention Scheme that our heads are spinning.
There is a risk that focusing on the Government guidelines in relation to furlough payments that all other HR matters and communication with your team is left in the background. You will likely be analysing what this means for the longer term. One thing is certain though, ignoring HR issues at this time, will most certainly lead Human Resource related issues further down the line.
Are your employment contracts fit for purpose for the next phase?
The furlough scheme has given many companies a temporary ‘get out of jail card’. Are your contracts fit for purpose for when your employees are no longer eligible for furlough, or when the furlough scheme ends?
Contract clauses and consultation – breach of contract.
Can you rely on your current contracts for short term working or temporary lay off situations? Do your employees even have contracts? If so, are they compliant with the new employment legislation that came into force on 6 April 2020?
If not, we strongly advise that you get these sorted. Employers are required to provide up to date contracts to new joiners. Additionally, from that date newly engaged workers should also be issued with the statutory information which complies with the new law. Your existing team can also request the new terms.
If you do not comply you risk breach of contract claims.
As an employer you will likely have lots of HR issues to resolve once ‘normal service’ resumes. Develop your policies, contracts and handbooks, HR information systems now so you can save time later – operational time that can be spent on keeping the business going.
Talk to your team – stay connected.
Our new normality has now settled into a reluctant new, albeit temporary, routine. Employees safely furloughed, and others working from home. Job done, all sorted?
Not quite. From a business owner’s perspective, having a remote workforce means a different and perhaps more demanding way of managing your people.
What other issues as a business owner should you be thinking about in this interim period before our new normality dawns?
How do you manage your internal communications with your team about day to day operational matters – they may have anxieties about finances, you may have concerns about their general mental wellbeing. Your team may also be concerned as to whether there will be a job to come back to?
The best way now is to ensure that you communicate regularly, be as transparent as you can about what is going on within the business, regular updates will ensure that some of their concerns are allayed. Respect their privacy at all times, and remember you may catch them at a wrong moment, so keep in touch, but don’t pry.
Communication for those employees working from home
Have more regular team meetings, encourage your team to work closely, and maintain contact with each other during the working day, if you have access to Zoom keep the meeting/communication channels open so that they can chat about day to day issues whilst they work as if they were in the office – just hearing the tap of a keyboard will reduce the feeling of isolation.
Set clear targets, check-in on the social aspects too, are they struggling, so they need more help, emotionally. As an SME business owner, you will likely know your staff quite well – those who live on their own may need more support from you, ensure those who have caring responsibilities have the flexibility they need during the day, understanding the pressures they face and suggesting solutions will demonstrate you care about their welfare and will help with productivity.
Lunch and coffee breaks
Encourage your team to stay connected, nothing wrong with members of your team who are still working (albeit remotely from home) keeping in touch with furloughed employees over a coffee, or a virtual lunch. Keep the team spirit going. Although furloughed team members are not working; they will benefit hugely from keeping in touch with work colleagues. Encourage the team to support each other – they likely will anyway, but facilitate this, it will take the pressure off you as the business owner, and will hopefully make the transition back to normality so much easier.
Justification of furloughing some staff and not others.
Even if you have been equitable and communicated who should be furloughed now and why the team might still feel resentful of some people being furloughed and others having to work. As long as your furloughed employees have been furloughed for a minimum of three weeks, perhaps try and rotate them with others. This may not be possible, but consider it, and you will then be able to justify why it was not possible if questioned. Keep notes of your decision process.
We can help with specific situations, we can develop contracts, handbooks, policies, advise on communication strategies and help with specific issues you may have as a business owner – these are lonely times for all of us, the uncertainty is unsettling. Or if you want to discuss different scenarios in relation to furloughing.
Lots of our clients have furloughed their staff, and all have had different scenarios to consider.
We are here to help resolve your HR issues and are happy to discuss any specific problems, we remain open for business as usual throughout this crisis to support our clients – old and new. Remember prevention is better than cure – and invariably less expensive.
Call us: 0118 3242526
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