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What have we learned from furlough?

Updated: Aug 18, 2020


2020 has introduced us to many new words to us like “lock-down”, “Furlough” and so on. It for sure has helped many of us to pause, reflect and course-correct our approach to work and life. Given that some are still working from home, many are doing things that they would not have imagined. People have found new hobbies; some have rekindled their dormant passion, and some are writing blogs like this. I have always heard people yearn for an opportunity to slow down and do something different. Many are using this opportunity to rekindle that spirit.


However, as we entered the second month of lock-down, there were only so many box sets that you could get through or spring clean the house. Whilst we all appear to have accepted this new way of life, the craving to do something meaningful has already started surfacing. Having led busy lives, this welcome break was like an unplanned holiday, but we wanted to get back to work and that is something that we was taken away from us.



As humans we have been programmed to do things to achieve something and on and on. Naturally, we start doubting our sense of worth when we are not able to live our busy lives. Many leaders and HR Directors are already worried that the lack of mental stimulus compounded by the lock-down can lead to a lot of well-being challenges.


To complicate things further, companies have been able to furlough employees which means they are not expected to do any work for the company. The furloughed employees find it tough as day roll into weeks going forward. People get bored and frustrated. Many of them resorted to stacking shelves or delivering food to find some purpose or routine.


If people are working for big corporations and in management positions, their salaries are way higher than the cap of £2500. Most of these managers are still working and they will not be made redundant (at least for the time being). It is the employees that work for small firms or SME’s that are likely to be impacted. Whilst they can’t work for the organisation, they can do some volunteer work to prop their emotional well being.


However, it does throw some ethical questions too. Would hiring a furloughed employee be perceived as an act of preying on the vulnerable? By hiring a furloughed employee are we not depriving another small business of that opportunity? What would happen when the parent company makes the furloughed employee redundant and the impact on the projects they do for start-ups? Are they morally bound to see it through?


Stepping back, this is a tremendous opportunity for these SME’s to partner with small firms and start-ups to get their furloughed employees to do some projects for these start-ups. That way they would not have to be worried about their employee well-being. In addition to that, the employees get to sharpen some of their skills or acquire some new skills whilst doing these volunteering projects which the parent company can stand to gain. It is a cool way to enhance the potential of the furloughed employees.


If the work that these volunteers do for the start-ups help them grow, guess where they will turn to when they need help? It is an excellent opportunity to build on the bank of goodwill. Everyone stands to gain by this arrangement. Of course, there are some technical and legal issues about confidentiality, IP ownership, etc but with a legal agreement in place it could easily be addressed.


Human beings are resilient. They adapt and adopt to survive and grow. A situation like the one that we are currently in demonstrates the ingenuity of people and how they get things done. This could spawn the birth of a new breed of the workforce that will rely on their expertise and not rely on one single source of income. Only time will tell!


Compaira was set up to recognise that talent development and recruitment are one and the same thing. If you are an employer or talented person who is looking at their career journey then come and have a conversation with us. Why not contact us at wecanbebetter@compaira.com

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