even if they return to work, will furloughed workers ever feel secure again?

A reader writes:

My company was fortunate enough to get a payroll protection loan last week, so all of our furloughed people were able to come back yesterday and, I believe, most salary reductions were reduced though not quite back to normal. The entire team I had working on the project I was leading was furloughed because the project wasn’t bringing money in. Everyone is back now and working on other projects, but I can’t help thinking about what it must feel like to be in that furloughed group. Will they ever feel secure in their jobs again or will they always feel like they’re on the chopping block if things go really bad again for the company? Is there anything project managers or senior leadership can do to make them feel better?

For a lot of people, it will depend on how things go over the next year or so. If the company recovers and regains stability, people will be better positioned to regain their own sense of security … to some degree.

But everyone is likely to come out of this feeling less secure about their jobs. Most people have understood in theory that their jobs could/would be cut if their employer hit tough times, but it’s a shock to the system when it actually happens, and happens in such large numbers. It’s not necessarily a bad thing for people to understand that in a more visceral way — while it’s upsetting and destabilizing, it’s also rooted in reality. The problem is if it keeps people feeling jittery and unrooted, to the point that it interferes with their mental health and/or ability to make plans. And I suspect that’s likely to happen, at least to some people. We’re all living through a collective trauma right now, and those don’t wrap up neatly just because you’ve survived it.

Things companies can do that will help: be as transparent as possible about their finances, plans, and contingency plans; treat people well; offer pay and benefits that make it possible for employees to build up safety nets to help weather future crises (that one will be harder for companies already stretched thin with their recoveries, but it matters if they want to retain people). And for the love of god, lobby for health insurance that’s not tied to employment.

even if they return to work, will furloughed workers ever feel secure again? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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