"Coming together is the beginning,  
Staying together is progress  
- and working together is Success" 
Henry Ford  
Whilst we know that furloughed staff are unable to work for your business, it’s important that you let them understand that this IS temporary. And, as such, it’s crucial to stay in touch during these challenging times. Keep your employees engaged now, and let them know that there’s an end in sight. No successful business we know hasn't worked hard to find, attract, employ and motivate their people before Covid-19 hit. It is vital to not loose ground on work already done - keep your employees engaged and you will be setting up your business to survive and thrive over the coming months. It doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. Here are our top tips for engaging furloughed employees throughout the Covid-19 pandemic: 
Make Communication Personal  
Communication is key at the best of times, let alone during a crisis such as this. Make it personal – group or mass emails are great, but you should be touching base with your workforce individually at least a couple of times a week too. And use their preferred method; where some love a phone call, to hear another voice, others may be more comfortable chatting via WhatsApp, Zoom, Slack or Teams instead. Remember that this is a stressful time for everyone, work aside; taking time to check in and make sure your staff are coping is a sure-fire way to let them know that you’re thinking of them and that their well-being matters to you. Use this time to talk about plans, goals and development ideas for the future. 
Encourage Training and Development  
Whilst they can’t be working whilst furloughed, to comply with HMRC guidelines, there’s no reason your employees can’t be using their brains and learning during this time. Supply your staff with resources to keep them engaged and making the most of this unexpected free time; whether it’s as simple of a self-help book, some industry-based reading to do online or even reiterating company processes and policies, there’s no reason not to keep your staff busy whilst they’re unable to go about their day job. Take a look at LinkedIn Learning or FutureLearn.com (free access to wide range of courses for 14 days) - encourage your employees to use this time to develop themelves. We are in isolation for who knows how long, let’s be frank: it’s going to get boring. Learning of any kind is going to provide a welcome break to Netflix for at least a while. 
Please note: if someone does any training for their job during furlough, they must get the current minimum wage for those hours. For example, if an apprentice continues with their apprenticeship while furloughed. 
Keep Team Morale and Engagement High  
It's important for you, the business leader, to stay in touch with staff - explain to them as best you can and in honest terms about the impact of decisions being made on them in the short, medium and long term, with empathy and one to one wherever possible. Level with them. The engagement on a individual level from this alone will be phenomenal.  
Encourage everyone keep in touch across the team too. Arrange regular video calls, whether it’s for ‘isolation beers’ on a Friday at 5pm, a virtual Pub Quiz on Thursdays, a online Scavenger Hunt or just a virtual get-together; keeping that team spirit alive will boost morale and have everyone excited to get back into the office to see their favourite work buddy. 
Create groups where employees with shared concerns and passions can hang out - parents, with activites or colouring competitions; foodie groups, and a break space with a few lighter hearted memes and comments. Don't forget to make available any wellbeing or mental health support channels.  
There’s no denying that these are troubling times; no one knows exactly what’s happening, or is going to, or for how long, so maintaining motivation across your teams and upholding stellar communication is key to getting through this. 
Employee engagement should be at the forefront, furloughed or no. Keep this in mind, and start looking forward to when we can all get back to ‘normal’ – whatever that’s going to look like! 
For more information on employee engagement and how Humber HR can help - check out our Survive and Thrive monthly webinars and be part of the convresation here https://www.humberhrpeople.co.uk/news/complimentary-4-month-programme-of-directors-virtual-breakfasts-survive-and-thrive-during-covid-19/ 
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