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Putting your People First During Tough Times

The coronavirus pandemic has so many businesses facing tough times and needing to make difficult decisions. Here are some suggestions to help protect your relationship with your employees.

COVID-19 have created unimaginable and heartbreaking effects on businesses both large and small. The lights of the entertainment industry have dimmed, the roar of the stadiums have gone quiet, airplanes are filled with ghost passengers, hotel room beds are left unslept in, and doors to restaurants, bars, gyms, salons, and shops are closed for the foreseeable future. The ability to generate revenue for many businesses all around the world has slowed down or completely stopped, but the overhead costs still exist. Some businesses have been able to take their work virtually, while other organizations are too deeply founded on in-person social interactions that there can be no substitution. The last thing anyone wants to do is lay their people off, but in many cases, that is the only solution to slow the bleeding of remaining cash flow to stay in business long enough to exist when this is all over.

Here are some recommendations to look into:

Employee Furloughs instead of Layoffs – A furlough is period of time for employees to either be unpaid or take a reduced salary. During employee furloughs, benefits usually continue, which is one of the ways in which employee furloughs are distinguished from a layoff, where benefits generally end either on the last day of work or at the end of the month.

Work Sharing Programs- Work sharing is a type of unemployment insurance (UI) program that allows an employer to reduce the number of hours an employee works during a week while unemployment compensation makes up some of the difference in income. This arrangement allows employees not to suffer financially as much during a furlough.

Establish a “Boomerang” or Alumni Program now- If you do have to lay employees off, having an established program to bring back former employees can set you up for successful recovery. When this ends (and it will end), you will want to get your business back up and running as quickly as possible. Hiring new talent is time consuming- between the search, screening, onboarding, and training process – It’s estimated to take 90 days to a full year to get a new person up to their full potential in a role. This is why being able to rehire your current quality talent is so important. Rehires have a drastically shorter ramp-up time and cost about 50% less than fresh applicants. Some tips for driving a successful boomerang program:

1.      Transparency and empathy – communicate with your employees about what is going on in the business. Make sure that it is clear and consistent. Speak from your personal perspective. This establishes credibility and clarity for the employees. Make sure that when they are laid off that they are not surprised, but that they feel you did everything you could to avoid the situation.

2.      Exit interviews – just like any other employee turnover situation – voluntary or involuntary – you should conduct an exit interview. Provide the employee a platform to share their thoughts before they leave. Knowing they have been provided a chance to be heard helps departing employees feel valued and at peace with the decision. In addition, the information gathered during the exit interview can help you shape your business upon recovery. Making changes based on your former employees’ feedback can encourage them to come back.

3.      Track eligibility – not all turnover is bad. Be sure to track who you would want to hire back for both voluntary and involuntary departures. This will help you organize who you want to target for rehire more quickly.

4.      Stay in touch – Let your eligible alumni employees know what is going on with the business. Send them emails, share community posts, and occasionally send personalized messages.

5.      Survey alumni – Reach out to find out what activities former workers are interested in and give them opportunities to update their information.

For additional suggestions on building a quality “boomerang” program please feel free to reach out me. At Sia Partners, we want to offer businesses who are struggling during this time a chance for some troubleshooting and coaching, for free. We care about your success, your employees, and the well-being of our community.


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