It is difficult to keep track, but we are now in week six of lockdown – and to be honest I had to check.

There are at least a couple of weeks to go before restrictions even begin to ease. The weather seems to be returning to normal, i.e. grey, and as a result the mood of optimism buoyed by the gloriously sunny Spring will undoubtedly be affected.

As employers we need to ensure that furloughed workers are not forgotten and help them keep mentally positive and well.

Whilst some employees might find furlough a partial relief, particularly those juggling caring responsibilities, others might find it exacerbates their anxiety. Recent findings from The Office of National Statistics (ONS) indicated that the crisis had induced ‘high levels’ of anxiety in 47% of the population, with 53 % reporting that it was affecting their wellbeing.

It is natural that the furloughed employee might feel isolated, I touched on this, and ways to address it in my column a couple of weeks ago. But there are many other factors to consider. Employees may worry if there will be a job to go back to and feel uncertain about their future. They may feel undervalued if some employees have stayed at work and they haven’t, or even guilty that they cannot support the organisation. Add the pressures of childcare, home schooling, being confined and mental stress can mount and become overwhelming.

Communication and support from the organisation is key! Communicating with the furloughed employees regularly and suggesting positive actions, activities and thought processes will help. In our latest free guide for furloughed staff we explore our top three engagement tools.

Encourage staff to practice gratitude is a really effecting tool - mindfully keeping a gratitude journal, logging the positives in our lives or that we have witnessed during this period. When we reflect, there are many, we’ve all seen incredible acts of kindness. There has been an upsurge in ‘community’ – we now talk to neighbours, albeit from a distance, we didn’t know we had. Remind everyone that it is physical distancing we are practicing not social! Who hasn’t broken into a grin clapping our carers and NHS on a Thursday night? Who didn’t shed a tear of joy and pride for Captain Tom?

Creating routine helps bring structure back. Making a plan for the day and achieving the plan set bring s great send of achievement no matter how insignificant the plan. Getting dressed instead of slobbing around in pyjamas. Setting goals and holding yourself to them.

We should all reframe our emotions and how we interpret them. Situations like Covid-19 are out of our control, and it is easy to let anxiety and worry take over. Instead of focusing on what we cannot do, focus on what we can do and re-frame what we are telling ourselves about the situation

Our full guide Three Ways to Increase Your Mental Positivity – a guide for furloughed workers, is available free on our website. Send it out to your staff. There are lots of ideas in there for everyone, you don’t need to be furloughed to benefit!

As always, we are here at Altum HR to guide and support. If you think we can help, call or email and one of the team will get back to you as soon as possible.

Thanks, and keep well,