Life after furlough!

2020, not a year that most of us want to remember…..although some have thrived!

It’s no secret that the small and medium-sized companies got the biggest hit over the past year with the Covid-19 crisis. It could even be considered as the worst crisis to hit businesses hard in modern history.

There were 3.4 million people still on Furlough, according to the latest published figures up to the end of April 2021. That’s a lot of people who don’t know whether they have a job to go back to.

Rishi Sunak announced an extension of the scheme until the end of September, which provides companies with some level of comfort that they have time to re-build their business before Furlough ends completely. However, companies will need to contribute 10% in July, and 20% in August and September towards wages for the hours employees cannot work.

What does this mean?

The table below shows the detail. You can obviously find more information on the Government website here Furlough Scheme Extended and Further Economic Support announced – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 MayJuneJulyAugustSeptember
Government Contribution: wages for hours not worked80% up to £2,50080% up to £2,50070% up to £,2871.5060% up to £1.87560% up to £1.875
Employer contribution: employer National Insurance contributions and pension contributions  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes
Employer contribution wages for hours not worked  No  No10% up to £312.5020% up to £62520% up to £625
For hours not worked employee receives80% up to £2,50080% up to £2,50080% up to £2,50080% up to £2,50080% up to £2,500


Now is the ideal time for you to start to plan your way out of Furlough.

Whilst this might seem like a challenge for your business, it could be an opportunity in disguise. You may be tempted to go back to how you worked before, but is that the best fit for your business now?

The pandemic brought in remote working for lots of employers that didn’t have staff working from home previously. Some struggled with the sheer technical impact of how they could facilitate it, especially with such short notice. Others were already equipped from a technical perspective but were not prepared on how they would manage remote workers on such a large scale.

A report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that remote working did not cause a fall in productivity in 71% of business, and in a third of them their productivity increased, suggesting many could make the shift permanent after the crisis ends.

Did you see an increase in efficiencies or productivity? Has this given you more capacity?

You might also recognise there were some activities that were done pre-pandemic that you have not missed and don’t need at all!

Business in general will need to consider their employee’s welfare and according to the latest research by digital coaching provider Ezra, suggested 75% of staff do not want to return to the office full time once we get back to ‘normal’. So, managing staff remotely, at least some of the time, is probably here to stay.

Does this mean you will need less office space and perhaps be able to reduce these overheads?

Some staff have really benefitted from not having to commute to the office. This has improved their work/life balance, given them more time for rest and in some cases, they have been afforded greater flexibility around when they work.

It is certainly true that some staff have experienced increased stress, anxiety, loneliness, and perhaps other mental health issues, as they found it much harder to switch off from work. Their home environment can also have an impact on how they feel about it, especially if they live in a smaller home with limited space to set up a workspace.

This could be considered a great opportunity to re-shape your business. If you take advantage, you could end up with a far more efficient business than you had pre-pandemic. Of course, re-structuring could mean you regrettably have to make some roles redundant. Conversely, it may well open up opportunities to recruit expertise you have wanted for some time but never thought you would be able to afford at this point in time and that could be just what your business needed.

The way we work and where we work has undoubtedly changed forever and could benefit both the business and its workforce. Strong leadership and management of staff are even more crucial than they have ever been.

Wendy Slater
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Wendy Slater

Wendy's experience spans 30 years of managing people and the last 20 years as a director leading people with responsibility for strategic HR. She has been in your shoes, so she understands the struggle with finding a flexible and approachable solution to your HR management. Breedon was built on this understanding and to put it simply – we are real people who you can rely on.