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What are you doing with furloughed staff?

As the country enters the third week of lockdown, with people being advised to stay at home to stop the spread of infection, protect the NHS and save lives, businesses that have been forced to close are beginning to feel the bite.

Many firms are reliant on people coming through the doors and many need to see customers face to face to survive. As an example, any Dentists, Chiropodists, Physiotherapists and Acupuncturists can’t survive without coming into contact with people. Never mind any retail outlet that serves food or sells clothes.

Gyms and other places where people meet publicly are all closed and the owners and staff are sitting at home, following Government guidelines.

In light of this and following the support packages put in place by the Government, many businesses are choosing to furlough staff rather than lay them off.

This is, of course, the preferred course of action, as a dormant but employed individual is far less of a burden to the state than an unemployed individual.

But what has happened to these furloughed staff? What are they doing?

In many cases, the answer is, not much.

Too many have been sent home with no sense of how long this might be for, nor with anything constructive to do.

The guidelines say that they are not allowed to undertake any economic activity that might benefit an employer, and on that basis, most businesses have literally mothballed these staff.

But the guidance also says that these individuals can undertake training, and frankly this is an opportunity too good to be missed.

So, instead of them sitting on their sofa in their pyjamas, binge watching box sets, have you considered what they could be doing that would benefit your business when furlough ends?

Because one thing is absolutely certain, and that is that furlough will end. When, no one can currently say, but we all know that it will cease at some point.

Firms that have had the foresight to work with furloughed employees to help keep them sharp and provide opportunities for them to upskill, will see the benefits once the restrictions are lifted.

As rather than going from binge watching box sets to having to work a full day, staff which have been used to training and keeping themselves sharp will be better placed to hit the ground running the moment restrictions are lifted.

Which brings us full circle back to the early use of the word furlough. Designed to describe military personnel who were stood down between conflicts, whilst not required to fight, it made sense for them to train.

In that context, training makes sense. So why not for business? And why not for your business?

Here are my thoughts on what you can do with furloughed staff.

Here’s a list of just some of the training resources we have found online which might be useful to your business and help your staff from becoming stir crazy.

IoD – Free Videos and Podcasts from the Institute of Directors

CiM – Some of the latest thinking from the Chartered Institute of Marketing

Future Learn – Free online short courses

Alison – Free online courses

Oxford Home Study – Free online courses

Google Digital Garage

Hubspot – 60 Free online courses

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