Some business owners are experiencing a pause while their employees are on furlough and the business is quiet. Of course, there are always things to do and it’s a good opportunity to catch up on some housekeeping matters.

Priorities will range from tasks in the office, contacting clients, taking care of your employees’ wellbeing, keeping accounts up to date and thinking about the next stage. Although it’s difficult to know what the next phase will bring, we can use questions to help us prepare, here are some you may find useful to reflect and plan:

Q: What do you wish you already had in place when your business and people were impacted?

  • Policies in place that would have helped (eg a layoff clause)
  • A supply of enough laptops so people could work from home
  • Managers skilled in leading remote teams
  • Strong communicators who can connect with people in various locations
  • An established wellbeing policy your teams could draw from

Q: If you are going to bring people back to the workplace, how will you do that?

  • In stages (who and when) or on a set date for everyone
  • Consider additional practices that need to be in place
  • Plan your communication

Q: Will you be extending the furlough period?

  • Communicate with everyone so they know what is happening to them and their colleagues
  • Think about what additional support your people may need
  • Keep track of the payments you make to be eligible for the grant

Q: Do you think you will need to make some redundancies?

  • Re-read the terms and condition in the employment contracts
  • Plan your consultation
  • Calculate severance payments and create a budget
  • Understand the selection criteria you can apply

Using different questions and thinking through the possible answers and outcomes can help you focus on what you need to do. These tasks will form your plan and you can shift the priorities around as the needs of your business and your people change.

From an HR point of view, I recommend you audit and update your contract of employment, company handbook (and any other policies), wellbeing initiatives, flexible working policy and approach, communication strategy, remote working policy. My suggestions aren’t just about re-writing what you already have in place but about considering how you want your business to look in terms of culture, behaviour, change and business continuity.

If you would like any advice on how to manage your business and staff needs going forward please do not hesitate to contact me on or call on 01273 284 191.

For more information on all our HR services for SME’s please visit our Human Resources service page here.

Human Resources for SMEs