Furloughing employees wan’t unheard of, but until the COVID crisis, it had never been done at this scale across industries. Many leaders are in uncharted territory. 

On May 13, 2020, our CEO Tanis Cornell joined John Brennan, VP of Human Capital at Life Time Fitness, on OutMatch‘s The Future of Work  Webinar Series. They had a great discussion about how the playbook for bringing people back, ways to re-purpose talent that doesn’t fit exactly where it did before, and caring for employees’ emotional well-being while also staying attuned to diversity issues.

Watch the 3-min recap here: Top 2 Things to Think about as You Bring People Back to Work

Watch the full webinar here.

Key Takeaways:

  1. People are grieving. Some are grieving for loved ones affected by coronavirus. Many are grieving for the way things used to be. People will continue grievingespecially as they return to work and don’t see all their co-workers there. Be sure you’re being empathetic to how people are feeling after the furlough. (15:15) 
  2. Think of department managers as ER doctors. You need them to know how to stop the bleeding or reset a bone, but if somebody needs a specific surgery, call in the expert.” Make sure to provide that backup support, and let your managers know they’re supported. (28:30) 
  3. When deciding who to bring back, use objective measures so that your diversity mix stays where it needs to be. Leaving these decisions up to whoever managers like best could adversely affect parents with children, for example, or other groups. (39:00) 
  4. Be quick, but don’t hurry. As you look to re-purpose talent (like in John’s example of using recruiters in the Care Center)be sure that people are trained in the new environment, comfortable, and know when to escalate issues they’re not ready to handle themselves. (45:30) 
  5. One of the most important qualities that’s going to be needed is learning agility. That’s going to take higher priority in the justification of who you bring back after a furlough than technical expertise. Going forward, you’ll be evaluating people’s potential, as well as what they’ve done to date. (48:30) 
  6. Have a “high tolerance for repetition.” Being methodical will help things run smoothly, but remember to be human and extend empathy every time you work the process, no matter how many times you work the process. (59:00) 


Check out related furlough resources: