Much has been written about how to layoff or furlough your employees as a result of this worldwide pandemic.  It occurred to me that very little advice has been shared on how to most effectively return these employees to active employee status. It is just as critical how you reinstate your furloughed employees as it is to communicate with your furloughed employees when they are not in your workplace. The following are two very effective recommendations on reinstating employees after you have sent them home and maybe not paid their wages:

Addressing Change

When your furloughed employees return to work, their workplace environment most certainly will have changed. You should discuss these changes with the furloughed employees either by phone or in an email prior to them returning to work. On the first day that the employees return to work, it is critical that you personally welcome them back with a very positive attitude. Also, show appreciation for their sacrifices made during this unfortunate situation. It is best to keep these employees busy so they will have less idle time to gossip or complain. It’s important to return them to a structured schedule.

Survivor Syndrome 

You should also be aware of the SURVIVOR SYNDROME that many employees are experiencing who did NOT temporarily lose their jobs. They may feel more than a little guilt when they are face-to-face with their co-workers who were furloughed. To lessen this feeling, you should meet with these retained employees to address how important the returning employees are, how glad they will be to return to work, and how they are peers who should be sensitive and respectful when the furloughed do return. Putting furloughed and non-furloughed employees on a common project at the beginning of their return to work is an effective way to minimize the Survivor Syndrome.

This Too Will Pass

Putting your business back together will be a challenge, but this pandemic will certainly become a historic event of the past. Being sensitive to the concerns of ALL of your employees is the first step to improve a potentially uncomfortable situation. As their leader, genuinely be sure to convey to your employees that you have the confidence to return the business to normalcy. Your employees will be looking for and needing this reassurance.

Author: Emory Mulling

Emory Mulling is a nationally recognized HR Consultant and Executive Coaching expert. As Founder and Chairman for the Mulling Corporation, the Mulling family of businesses is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. The firm was founded in 1986 and is a leader in HR consulting for small, medium and large companies.

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