King Recruit explores why it’s ‘business critical’ to keep your furloughed workers engaged

Furlough was always in the English dictionary, but most of us didn’t know it was there until March 20th, 2020. Yes, it’s going to protect at least 1 million jobs in the UK, however with it, comes new challenges for employers to keep staff ‘ready to return to work’, with engagement chief among them.

It’s important to engage with your furloughed employees so they are ready to return to work when the time comes. 

Furloughed employees are those that are asked to take an involuntary leave of absence to mitigate the economic impact caused by emergency pandemic measures introduced the world over.

So while furloughed employees are under strict instruction not to undertake any working duties, employers remain responsible for providing a duty of care. Besides, savvy businesses will be thinking about how they can ensure that furloughed employees remain engaged to the extent that when normal work resumes, they will be able to ‘pick up where they left off’.

Why keeping furloughed employees engaged is a business priority

Preventing staff from working presents a quandary for businesses affected by this crisis. Employers will need to keep staff in the loop to ensure a smooth and successful return, but how do you engage employees prevented from undertaking any work?

Though it may seem unclear exactly when, employees will be asked to come back to work soon. If months have gone by and those on furlough have disengaged, employers will face the arduous task of bringing their returning workforce up to speed. This may lead to significant losses in productivity that further impact your bottom line.

A strong, positive culture can prove to be an invaluable lifeline for keeping furloughed employees switched on and connected to your organisation. As the glue that keeps your company together, taking steps to establish an inclusive culture that supports furloughed employees is key for businesses at this time.

King Recruit’s 6 strategies for getting prepared to ‘un-furlough’

1. Create a social buzz

People that have taken a step away from work don’t have to lose touch with their colleagues and your business. A lively social platform will keep furloughed employees connected and to your enterprise. Social channels, especially those dedicated to talking about things outside of work, can become a vital communications tool for furloughed employees. Open discussions and forums where staff can support each other, ask for advice, or simply keep in touch will go a long way to replacing water cooler chat, while polls and surveys can help your business gather feedback at this critical time.

executive jobs recruitment2. Training and Development

Is training and development still allowed?

Yes, the government guidance states:

“Furloughed employees can engage in training, as long as in undertaking the training the employee does not provide services to, or generate revenue for, or on behalf of their organisation. Furloughed employees should be encouraged to undertake training”.

Employers may wish for employees whilst on furlough to undertake some online training for example, but for any period of training the employees’ wages must be topped up by the employer.

3. Continue to offer support

Employers still have a duty of care to their furloughed employees. This means continuing to support the health and wellbeing of employees, even when they’re on enforced leave. In fact, in such uncertain times, the need to provide robust mental health support is amplified. Ensuring furloughed employees still have access to wellbeing resources is critical to supporting employees in challenging times. Consider ways of stepping up mental health support, either by concentrating communications efforts in this area or by launching peer-to-peer support initiatives that encourage employees to support each other.

4. Tailor your communications

Internal communications are an organisation’s bread and butter during a crisis, but adding in the wrinkle of furloughed employees can complicate the matter. Content and communications will need to take advantage of every channel at their disposal to reach your furloughed workforce. Email broadcasts and mandatory read functionality will play a part in distributing crucial updates, but keeping employees engaged with your culture will require a softer touch. Communicating with furloughed and non-furloughed employees will require distinct approaches. To ensure your comms efforts don’t alienate either audience, content specifically created for those on leave should be a key aspect of any engagement strategy. Create an audience within your CMS of all those employees currently placed on furlough, and use this to target content towards them. 

5. Spotlight ambassadors

As employees are asked to take a step away from work, your business can only offer so much support. Those that use this time as a break from the workplace, even digitally, maybe unreceptive to efforts to keep them engaged. This is where your people can become a valuable asset for maintaining a sense of community and reaching those placed on furlough. Designating internal ambassadors within your business is a great way of ensuring everyone has a ‘go-to’ person when needed. 

The steps you take to engage furloughed employees will prove essential when the time comes to return to work, but there is no substitute for social interaction to maintaining culture and keeping people connected.

6. Have some fun 

Who said you can’t engage on a social level with your teams? Creating a great culture outside of work gives people a sense of belonging and instills loyalty and therefore it’s worth investing time outside of standard working hours or at the end of the week so everyone can take part. A virtual glass of wine on a Friday, a pub quiz or monthly sporting challenge such as running 200km on Strava, will engender great team bonding, some healthy competition and an appetite to return to work when the furlough scheme ends. 


King Recruit is an independently minded recruitment and search agency, covering Exeter and the whole of the South West. For ambitious companies and professionals alike – the core of our mission is to help drive your success.

If you’d like to speak to King Recruit by video or telephone interview advice, please call us on 01392 790725 or email to arrange a convenient time. There is no obligation. King Recruit is making a Covid-19 pledge to help anyone who needs advice, support and guidance.

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Survive and Thrive: 9 Strategies for Businesses in a Crisis

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How to Keep your Furloughed Workers Engaged

Delaying Recruitment: The Real Cost

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