Is FURLOUGH dangerously addictive for employers and their employees?

Whilst there can be little doubt Furlough has helped many businesses and individuals during these difficult times, the question is, is it healthy?

I’m not so sure, and judging by recent comments from Rishi Sunak, neither is the Chancellor.

20% more money, but doing all of the work. That’s the reality for those within the industry that are not currently on furlough versus those confined to barracks.

Seven weeks into lockdown and some agents are dealing with a growing number of enquiries, doing the work and taking the responsibility for their furloughed colleagues, who through no fault of their own, are living another groundhog-day of TV box-sets.

But let’s spare a minute to think about those on furlough, does the reality live up to the hype?

Is their reality ‘why me’? Am I not valued member of the team? Will the company want me back? Do I even have a job to go back to?

So, will a two-tier dynamic created by furlough breed some resentment if not ended soon?

Will the mood of branch offices quickly recover or be permanently consigned to an atmosphere that knives could cut?

A prerequisite of furlough is that you must keep your people away from all work.

And, as any £1000 a day business psychologist will tell you, if you do something for 66 days straight it becomes a habit, and that in itself then proves hard to snap out of.

Will those who were furloughed return alienated and detached whilst their colleagues heroically kept the wheels of business turning?

Thankfully, Sunday heralds the proposed announcement by Boris Johnson that will be our ‘wake up and smell the coffee moment’ for agents across the country, as he unfurls his plan to get us back into the old world of public interaction, albeit masked, gloved and socially distanced.

So, the dilemma is…. do we further risk the health to company culture if lockdown continues past May? Or should we unlock early and get on with business?

Which camp are you in, stay locked or un-lock?

 

Josh Rayner is founder and head of Rayner Personnel.

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4 Comments

  1. Jonathan.Welford

    I’ve been furloughed and can’t wait to get back working.  However the anxieties of how the property landscape is going to be is worrying.  Will the job still be there? Will the business still be brisk?

    Fortunately, in my company all the front end sales and Lettings were furloughed, so a couple of senior managers and owners took over the hands on running of the company.  So there won’t be any ‘them and us’ mentality about who was kept on and who wasn’t.

    It’s a completely bonkers situation for all.  Fellow estate agent friends I chat with regularly have mixed feedback on how individual companies have acted and reacted with the crisis.  How well/or badly they’ve communicated just before furlough and throughout the furlough periods. It’s a mixed bag and only time will tell how things will really pan out.  Some companies will have a pat on the back, others will find their workforce will have plans to up and leave.

     

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  2. J1

    Its a unique set of issues faced by all employers who may have realised that they can be much leaner going forward even if the market does bounce.

    Who do you bring back first, second or third?  The first ones back will essentially be working full time for a 20% uplift on furlough monies.  Some may not want to return – a simpler life might be more attractive.

    Some companies will actually never look the same again.

     

    P.S. Boris might say we have another three weeks at home just yet….. just a thought

     

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    1. Jonathan.Welford

      I think the returning protocol has to be done sensitively, then personality type of sales people are easily wounded if they feel favouritism is in at play.  Also, business owners have to appreciate that for many agencies, it going to be like a cold start office.

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      1. J1

        I suspect many Directors will open on their own first and leave their staff on furlough while they assess the demand….. Pent up demand releases itself in a huge initial wave and then peters out, the real test to agencies will come in the Autumn and Winter months IMHO

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