Josie Broadstock runs Warrington-based Altum HR and has advice on surviving furlough

THIS is my first column in print for The Warrington Guardian.

I aim to keep businesses up to speed on the employment implications of Covid 19 to best help employers steer through these extraordinary times and keep the wheels of their business turning.

We have never been busier at Altum HR. We are issuing advice and guidance to everyone, not just our clients as we see it as our duty to share our expertise to help keep business alive and the economy moving.

Many of our clients have expressed concerns over a rise in conflict and animosity between staff members. With the prevailing uncertainty around health, job roles, job security and financial worries, it’s no wonder that staff may be feeling unsettled and emotionally charged.

My colleague, Tara has written an excellent paper which is available to download free on our website to assist employers in understanding some of the common issues that may arise and how these can be managed successfully. It is well worth a read and includes most of the common conflict issues and importantly how to resolve or diffuse them.

‘Why Me?’ syndrome, for instance, is a common topic often arising when one employee has been furloughed and another hasn’t. The resolution lies in transparent, honest and clear communication as to the organisation’s survival objectives. There can also be animosity. Let’s face it, the weather is unseasonally glorious at the moment. The workers who continue to work may perceive their retention to be unfair and that they are carrying the organisation. This needs to be considered. Indeed, there is a possibility that Government may in the future offer a furlough rotation scheme.

Furthermore, there is the issue of those staff who have been furloughed feeling divorced and alienated from the business. We suggest a buddy system where those continuing to work buddy up with furloughed workers to remain in contact and support continuity of service.

Creating a great team is hard. The last thing employers need is to see it divided and broken. When the pandemic slows, there will be a need for employees to come together as a team quickly to help businesses recover. Communication is key. Arrange some fun. Take some time to arrange team building engagement activities whilst furlough processes run – examples could be Zoom quizzes, fancy dress photos or treasure hunts in the home. Be creative in encouraging team activities to maintain team spirit and interaction.

Such interaction also will assist the mental health of furloughed staff in isolation. I’ll touch on this and other issues including financial pressures, perceived alienation and change management in next week’s column. For those who can’t wait, have a read of Josie’s paper on our website.

If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us and one of the team will get back to you as soon as possible. We can also offer assistance in actively managing the issues for you and relieving the stress.

Thanks, have a Happy Easter and keep well,