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Look after your people – Helping them thrive beyond Government support

There is some light in this dark time. Just two weeks ago I wrote about my plea to businesses to consider all voluntary leave options before laying off employees permanently in a knee jerk reaction – thereby damaging their ability to get their talent back to work when it’s time to recover from the crisis.

There’s light in this darkness! Many Governments have responded with support for businesses so they can retain their workforce.

There are many Government support packages for business and here are just a few of the examples of what countries are doing to support workforce retention.

In the UK, the government has announced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This allows employers to put employees on furlough (temporary unpaid leave). Government support will provide furloughed employees with 80% of their usual wage, up to £2,500 a month.

Australia has announced a JobKeeper Payment scheme. Under this scheme “businesses impacted by the coronavirus will be able to access a subsidy from the Government to continue paying their employees. Affected employers will be able to claim a fortnightly payment of $1,500 per eligible employee from 30 March 2020, for a maximum period of 6 months.

In the US, where policies can be determined at a state level, Seattle have introduced the provision for employers to request that employees go on Standby for up to 8 weeks. This allows the employee to collect unemployment benefits while remaining employed and ready to return to work.

In the Netherlands, the government has announced emergency bridging measures for employers providing up to a maximum of 90% compensation for payment of wages for a period of three months. While receiving this benefit, employers are not allowed to make employees redundant.

Of course there are a lot of conditions and rules that apply to each of the schemes so make sure you read the details of each scheme to understand their applicability.

The common thread is that employees will still receive a paycheck (albeit perhaps a smaller one) for at least the next couple of months. The focus is on retaining the workforce so that businesses can recover when the world re-opens.

This is fantastic news for employers, and employees. There are many pressures that businesses are facing right now. To lose their people as well would have been a huge blow to their ability to recover. Some businesses are also even opting to add to the government support where they feel the pay gap for employees is too great.

With the immediate payroll problem alleviated in these countries, another problem starts to surface. Will your workforce be mentally, emotionally and physically ready when you need them to start working again?

Employees may remain underutilised or not working at all for several months. This is coupled with the fact that many are socially isolated and locked inside due to the public health efforts to contain the virus. People may also either be fighting the virus or looking after someone who is. This is going to have a huge impact on them – mentally, emotionally, physically.

In the last few weeks, I’ve also seen another interesting response in my coaching sessions with people in lockdown. “Quarantine Guilt”. The FOMO of seeing other people on social media being productive - baking, reading, learning, creating. The self-judgement and guilt rises as people feel that they too should be making the most of this time off. People are feeling uncertain about the future, whilst feeling lost about what they can do to take control of their situation.

I’ve been working with a company in Seattle to develop a program that will support their employees through this time. Helping them learn how to take a pause, then focus their energy on reflecting on where they’re at in their life and their career and deciding what they would like to improve. By bringing them virtually together as a group, they get the support and interaction from their peers while getting the accountability for moving their actions forward.

We’re calling the program Time to Thrive – helping people on temporary leave use this time to pause, grow and thrive.

We can’t take the virus away, but we lessen the feeling of isolation and help them build stronger careers and happier lives. This is their Time to Thrive.

As a business, it’s doing what they can to support their people at this time, helping them grow stronger so they are ready and willing to participate in the business recovery. Building a stronger company with stronger people ready to thrive.

If you want to know more, feel free to get in touch with me. Connect with me on LinkedIn or reach out at


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