Furloughing staff? How to create a succession plan and effectively communicate bad news without losing trust

In our last blog, we talked about the importance of communication when it comes to keeping trust. As our people and our businesses continue to feel the pressure of COVID-19, keeping trust and retaining staff (where possible) are vitally important.

No one wants to furlough staff or make people redundant, but equally none of your people want to face the uncertainty of being furloughed. You can help your people to feel valued and increase their faith in you as an employer by communicating openly and honestly about the upcoming changes.

Here are a few ways to help things along when you have to communicate bad news to your employees.

Be honest, avoid sugar-coating

In times like these, it can be easy to assume that falling into the trap of promising things that can’t be delivered or claiming the choice is all about your employees. Economically, the future may be uncertain but your people will understand, for the most part, what is happening.

It is only fair to treat them with respect and communicate honestly. Are sales falling? Tell them. Are your revenue projections falling? Let your people know. The economic impact of COVID-19 is widespread so, while you don’t necessarily need to go down to the exact numbers, explain clearly and honestly exactly why this is happening.

Explain the planned duration of furlough

While we can’t be sure how long this is all going to go on for, provide your people with some level of assurance by informing them of the planned timeframe of their furlough. In the UK for example, the government grants are available for 3 months. If your plan is to furlough staff for 3 months, make sure those who are affected, and everyone else, know that that’s the plan.

You can also do a lot to help your people stay engaged in your organisation and help them to improve their skills. Work may be off the cards, but you can still train, upskill, and reskill your employees. 

Find out more about training through furlough

Make sure everyone is in the loop

Whether you’re an organisation of 100 or 10,000 people, ensuring everyone understands what’s happening is incredibly important. Everyone in your organisation needs to understand the level of furloughing taking place (e.g 30% of all employees).

When it comes to communicating who is being furloughed, it can be helpful to provide a list of names to anyone who is directly impacted. If you work in a small organisation, a simple list of names and which department(s) they work in can be sent to everyone.

For larger organisations, it makes sense to ensure everyone who works directly with a person being furloughed is made aware of what is happening.

Have a plan in place

Communicating bad news is one of the hardest parts of owning a business and working in HR. However, it’s important to plan ahead. If you want to communicate clearly, you need an effective comms plan. This begins with a clear picture of your succession planning and caretaker roles within your organisation. 

We're here to help

If you’d like to know more about succession planning and how this can help your business get through the coming months, get in touch with our team through the link below.

Find out more about succession planning

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