How to support employees during, after furloughs: 3 imperatives

Dozens of hospitals nationwide have decided to furlough employees as a result of lost revenue from suspending nonemergent procedures and other pandemic-related expenses.

In an April 24 article for the Harvard Business Review, Sandra Sucher, a professor at Harvard Business School, and Shalene Gupta, a research associate at Harvard Business School, outlined strategies for managers to implement during and after the furlough period. 

Three key takeaways: 

1. Managers should be thinking about how to make a "good" furlough. The authors said although employees aren't coming into work, that doesn't mean they don't exist. Managers should ensure furloughs are fair, like not pressuring employees to continue working, and that leadership tries to boost morale whenever possible.

2. Early and frequent communication is recommended. Even if managers don't have an answer to specific questions, the authors say it's more reassuring to hear leadership doesn't have an answer but that the issue is top of mind than nothing at all. The information should come from a single, trusted source of authority.

3. Even after returning to work, furloughs will have long-lasting effects on employees. The researchers said difficulties that come with being furloughed, like living on unemployment benefits and seeking available replacement jobs that come with a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure, will leave returning employees with complex feelings. Managers should not stop frequent and transparent communication once the furloughs end, but rather keep employees aware of how the recovery plan is progressing and reassurance about the future. 

Read the full article here

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