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Two big questions business owners should be asking now

Regardless of how optimistic you are about the outlook there are two big questions locked down business owners should be asking right now.

Like many of you, I’m sitting at my computer in my home office, contemplating the extension of the lockdown, and wondering what my business is going to look like over the coming weeks and months and there are two key questions that keep bouncing to the surface for an ambitious business leader:

What on earth should I be communicating to my team at the moment?

When furlough ends, am I going to need everyone to come back to the same jobs?

“No news is good news” doesn’t hold true in this situation.

With many teams at home and a relentless stream of bad news available in the press, we need to find some messages to communicate with our teams so that they aren’t left in a vacuum.

Let’s take a quick look at these.

What on earth should I be communicating to my team at the moment?

We’ve already suggested some great ways to stay in touch with your team whilst working remotely. If, like me, you are recording a regular video email or writing a note to the team, it can be hard to know how much to say, particularly when the future seems very opaque at the moment.

We’d encourage you to share reasons to be optimistic (for example, that the lockdown will end and things will get back to normal, we are a brilliant team, there are fantastic opportunities ahead of us), as well as some potentially more realistic news (eg, salary reductions may be slow to be reinstated in order to preserve jobs).

If you aren’t sure what to say, phone a few of the team and ask them what their questions are, then craft a message weekly to answer concerns. Often FAQs are easier to write and read than a huge essay.

Remember what is important and makes your business uniquely you, these may be captured in your purpose and values. Restating these in light of where the country and your industry is today will bring clarity.

When furlough ends, am I going to need everyone to come back to the same jobs?

This is a tricky question. The furlough scheme, whilst designed to retain jobs, for some businesses will have just delayed a difficult decision.

The furlough scheme was initially introduced for a 3 month period from 1st March, and the government announced last week it would be extended to 30th June.

There may already be roles that you have identified that you know you won’t need back after the furlough scheme ends, perhaps due to the industry or business contracting, or a review of how you have been delivering work that has meant a new shape to the business. To make redundancies you need to demonstrate meaningful consultation for a fair process. We usually advise that a minimum of 10 days consultation demonstrates meaningful (if less than 20 employees are affected), followed by often a month’s notice period, so it could be that you need to start properly considering the future workforce within the 6-7 weeks or so to tie in with the end of furlough, unless the government further extends the scheme.

It is a lot to think about, but in uncertain times, planning is a key discipline.

We will be publishing some ideas and guidance about preparing for the end of lockdown and the furlough scheme over the coming weeks, but if you would like to chat it through with one of the team this week, we are still offering our free 30 minute consultations throughout April.

Written by Ally Maughan, CEO, People Puzzles

We will be publishing some ideas and guidance about preparing for the end of lockdown and the furlough scheme over the coming weeks, but if you would like to chat it through with one of the team this week, we are still offering our free 30 minute consultations throughout April.

You can get in touch with us hello@peoplepuzzles.co.uk or call 0808 164 5826 .

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