3 Best Practices for Communicating with Your Furloughed & Laid Off Frontline

HR teams across the country are doing amazing work right now that is both emotionally and physically exhausting.  And, that is especially true of those who have needed to run point on lay-offs and furloughs within their organizations.  In our conversations with these amazing HR professionals leading the charge at some of the country’s most respected companies, there are 3 things they’re all doing from a communication standpoint with their laid off and furloughed frontline workers.

  1. Writing Handwritten Thank You Notes.  Yes, an actual handwritten thank you note.  In large organizations, the leadership of the company isn’t able to do that for every hourly employee. But, the managers at the team level are doing that for the people on their teams.   As Sue Andrews, Human Resources and business consultant for KIS Finance, states, “Staff need to feel that they still matter to the company and haven’t just been abandoned or forgotten about.   Make your communications personal to each individual. This will be far more valuable than a simple generic message sent to everyone and well worth the time that it takes.”  And, nothing reflects “personal” more than a handwritten note.  Just a simple 3 sentence handwritten note can make a world of difference in how appreciated someone feels.
  1. Sharing stories of how they’re serving the community.  Applebee’s is serving free meals to their laid off employees and their families at their restaurants.  Student Transportation of America is delivering meals through some of their school bus drivers to underprivileged kids.  They’re sharing those stories with their other employees, which they love seeing.  It gives them such a sense of pride they have in their employer.  If you are serving the community in any kind of way, which we know so many of you are in beautiful ways, we encourage you to share those stories with your employees. 
  1. Communicating regularly and being transparent about their “come-back” plan.   The companies we talk to who are doing this the best are communicating with their frontline at least once per week. They’re sharing those community stories, inspirational quotes, and their latest thoughts on their come-back plan.  (And from what we have seen here at goHappy, the employees’ responses to this communication proves how much they appreciate the outreach!) In most instances, their come-back plans aren’t concrete, but they’re sharing what they have and it’s helping their people to focus on the future.  So, our encouragement is to be communicating with your frontline frequently and be as transparent about what you’re thinking as possible.  As your thoughts evolve and iterate based on outside influences, share those with them.  It shows them that you want them to be part of the future plans.