It is not too late to introduce an effective professional development scheme for employees to feel motivated and sharpen their skills while furloughed from work.
Perhaps you were not aware that employee training is permitted during furlough. With the quick pace of government updates as the coronavirus situation develops, it can be a challenge to keep up.
Not only is training allowed for furloughed employees, but it is actively encouraged. There are some rules of course, as you might expect. For example, training must not provide services to, or on behalf of, your company. And employees are entitled to the National Minimum Wage for their time spent training whilst furloughed. You will need to keep a record of any training undertaken to calculate the correct entitlements for payroll.
Why should employee training be a priority?
You may be asking, why is a training scheme for furloughed employees of relevance now when the UK government has started to encourage people back to work? We feel it is important to clarify some points from the UK government’s recovery strategy published earlier this week.
- Only those who cannot work from home and who work in specific sectors in England are permitted to travel to work from today.
- The workplace must meet COVID-19 Secure guidelines and implement social distancing before employees return.
Additionally, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is still accessible and is now expected to be open until October. This means that many employees may be required to remain on furlough leave throughout the summer.
Whilst we know that there will be many other high priorities on your to-do list at present, health and safety being a big one, there are good reasons to add employee training to your list.
How to get employees back to work better
Over six million employees had been furloughed within the first two weeks of the Job Retention Scheme opening. Some may be back to work; others may still be absent, and everyone will have dealt with it in their own unique way.
By now, the novelty is likely to have worn off and it can be a challenge for those who struggle to maintain a routine. Returning to work after an extended period can be a reality check and some employees may need a reminder of some basic operations and processes.
Of course, there’s also the possibility that necessary business adjustments result in some employees returning to a completely new role.
Implementing a professional development plan before employees return to work can help. It will also save time for the crucial tasks needed when reopening your business.
Making the most of this opportunity
So what should training focus on? You’ll want to ensure that any training or professional development completed during furlough is job critical and can address the needs of your business now or in the future. How has your business changed since Coronavirus?
As well as undertaking your own analysis of skills gaps or areas for improvement, it is a good idea to engage employees and ask them how they feel they could better their capabilities. You may find that they have discovered new interests during furlough that they could pursue within your business when they return to work.
Welcoming employee input for training opportunities shows that you care about their professional development. It can be a fantastic way to motivate your team through this challenging time.
Training is not just recommended for furloughed employees. It can benefit every member of your workforce. Consider those who are working from home or on reduced hours too. It can be a helpful way to encourage optimism and a sense of accomplishment.