Category: Recent Blogs


Reluctant Returners: Webinar Summary

Participants on this webinar were anything but reluctant – it proved to be a topical subject matter with lots of questions and response to our poll.

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Furlough Fallout

The online poll during this webinar indicated that 82% of participants believed that either they would or may have difficulties with potential “us and them” scenarios as we plan, prepare and expect a return to work or the workplace.  So in this population this issue is real and expected.  The potential arises as a result of groups of employees who were previously largely ubiquitous, were then treated differently as a result of the lockdown.  Some remained at work in the workplace; some home based working; some furloughed; some made redundant.  Now with restrictions being eased and decisions about the future employment of all employees, there is potential for uncertainty and the opportunity for unequal treatment and inequality.

There is a real role for careful leadership and management of these potential scenarios and whilst there is no rule book or definitive guide on steps to take we would suggest that the following could go some way to mitigate any potential difficulties:

  • Communication to all to set out the context – what is happening in the business; what are the priorities and challenges; how all the team can contribute to the future?
  • Be aware of making assumptions about how lockdown may or may not have affected employees.  Take the time to establish where each person is at and how they are feeling.
  • Be clear about roles and responsibilities now and moving forward as these may have changed over lockdown and as priorities may have altered
  • Agree how we are all going to come back and be prepared that might need to change over time as we get used to new ways of working
  • Be mindful that previous tensions and difficult relationships will have not gone away and could have become more entrenched over lockdown
  • Address difficulties and differences of opinions – don’t leave them to fester
  • Be clear about the way forward and the part that all need to play to move the business forward onto the next chapter
  • Have authentic and perhaps difficult conversations to pave the way to the new norm

There are no definitive answers to this potential tensions and differences.  The first steps is to recognise there is a potential; then to assess where each team member is actually at, rather than make some assumptions; have clear and robust communication that sets the direction forward and deal with issues as they present themselves – it has not been an easy time for anyone and furlough may or may not have been “flip flops and G&T on the deck” for everyone!

On Tuesday 14th July, 12.30 pm – 1.30 pm we are going to drill down on how to manage people who are reluctant to return to work  and how you might approach these scenarios.

Book your place here.


Upcoming Webinar – How To Manage Reluctant Returners

How To Manage Reluctant Returners

Date: Tuesday 14th July

Time: 12.30 pm – 1 pm

This week we are continuing on the theme of getting back to work and the workplace. This week we will be sharing with you strategies to cope with reluctant returners.  Some of us are eager and willing to get back to work and return to the workplace. Some are a bit more ambivalent and others are reluctant. In this week’s webinar with Charlie Johnston, director at Paratus Executive we will be discussing:

  • How do you assess how your team members will react?
  • What strategies can you adopt to cope with their reaction?
  • Are there genuine and legitimate reasons not to return to work?
  • What is the leadership mindset to approach this and deliver a positive outcome?
  • What communication will be important in the coming weeks to re-energise the team?

There are no guidebooks or procedural norms for dealing with these sets of circumstances and the rules have not been written.  Therefore there are no rights or wrongs but are there some good practice guidelines and constructs that we can draw upon to drive your business forward, regain some lost ground and get the team working together.

Margery has some good practical organisational level strategies to share with you which is the first step but what do you do with the information that you gather? How do you respond and how do you get the team back to work, even those who might be reluctant? 

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Furlough Fallout: How To Reunite Your Team When They Return

One of the most unprecedented aspects of the current situation is the 9.1 million people who are currently furloughed, some since the 17th of March. For the vast majority they will never have experienced “time off” work like this.

There are by contrast those who have had to work all the harder during the past 4 months in reduced teams, working from home while also home schooling. Their experience will be night and day compared to that of their colleagues who are furloughed. It is therefore likely that this situation will have created a “them and us scenario” with possible resentments felt on both sides. Why was I furloughed and you weren’t? I’ve had to work longer, harder hours while you were sunning yourself…

How as an employer do you manage “them and us” furloughed situations and reunite your team?

At our next webinar on Tuesday 7th July from 12.30- 1 pm, Margery will be in discussion with Mark Blair, director at Effective Now how you can manage the ‘them and us’ situation in your own business and team. 

We will be discussing:

  • How to manage the ‘them and us’ scenario following furlough
  • How to reunite your team and get back to effective teamwork 
  • How understanding other people’s perspectives and experiences is key to effective teamwork

Effective Now is a people based consultancy who work with SME’s to make businesses more successful by making you and your team more effective. They work with companies who want to improve communication in their business, need to make significant changes and who want to achieve an effective working culture.

Mark’s background as an international rugby star playing for Ulster winning the European Cup, Edinburgh and Narbonne in France gives him some unique insights and experiences of effective teams and how you keep a team together even through the tough times.

Book Your Seat Now!


The Risks of Opening your Workplace and your Team Returning to Work

Bryan Mclelland of BSM Training & Consultancy joined us for our most recent webinar on 30th June 2020. With lockdown provisions continuing to ease across Scotland, many workplaces that shut down significant parts of their operations or potentially the entire operation are in the midst of planning to get up and running again.

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The Risks & Challenges of Opening Your Workplace and Your Team Returning to Work

Our Upcoming Webinar in Conjunction with BSM Training & Consultancy…

With the current Government rules and guidelines there are new health and safety requirements that businesses must have in place before returning to work. For many businesses the challenge of maintaining the 2 meter social distancing rule will be a significant challenge. Also the cleanliness of your workplace may have to be increased and hand sanitisation stations set up. If you have changed the physical space, your fire risk assessment may need to be reviewed. 

In addition to the health and safety challenges there will be many HR challenges. How will your furloughed team feel about coming back to work and possibly the workplace after 3-4 months, or longer, on furlough? How will you motivate them? How will you manage team members who have childcare issues with no holiday clubs being run or their children going back to school on significantly reduced hours? How will you manage the ‘them and us’ scenario between those who have worked through lock down and those who have been furloughed. 

Join Neil and Bryan Mclelland, Director of BSM Training & Consultancy, on Tuesday 30th June, 12.30pm – 1pm to discuss the risks and challenges of opening your office and managing your team. They will be offering solutions and guidance.

To be aware is to be prepared!

If you would like to send your questions, thoughts or experiences in advance of the webinar please email them to 

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The HR trends, challenges and learnings since lockdown

It was great to catch up yesterday with Ewan Dunlop, Partner Account Manager from BreatheHR, today on the HR trends and challenges that have surfaced during lockdown.  Software platforms were identified as key to our new norm, communication through Zoom and other platforms and BreatheHR being used to record and keep up to date with HR administration and going beyond holiday and sick absence management which will support communication, recognition and developing culture.  Ewan gave some great examples of using notifications, the kudos feature to congratulate colleagues and boost morale, and setting and recording objectives on the platform.  This is feasible because of the accessibility of the platform and the simplicity of use.  Managers will be able to use the reporting functions to track who is on furlough (or not); holiday management; changes to working patterns and ultimately to inform payroll especially as we move towards flexible furlough.

We recognised the challenges associated with creating confidence and trust in helping people to get back to work as this will represent different reactions and responses from staff.  Some eager to get back to work, others more reluctant because of health, caring or other concerns and some opposed to returning to the workplace.  The opportunity to create a Return to Work policy was discussed and encouraged as this would allow the business to create new norms; establish safe practices and allow concerns to surface and be addressed including all the things that you have not thought about or considered as important.  So collaboration and communication, involving others to develop the Return to Work policy and then to talk to staff individually is suggested as good practice.

In every set of circumstances there are positives and negatives and these are personal and unique to each individual.  However business owners and managers will need to find a way to address those concerns and find a way in which we can work together, live with the threat and presence of Covid 19 and stay safe and productive.  Many of us look forward to the friendship and camaraderie that work provides to our every day life and we all face the challenge of doing that at a distance, remotely and with tinges of undercurrents of the threats that the virus may still present.

However the new norm will feature software platforms and our increased use and understanding of the value of accessible and secure platforms in our working lives, including BreatheHR.

You can watch the full webinar here.


Good Conversations – Part 2

I was really looking forward to having a good conversation today.  Against the backdrop of so much angst and aggravation it felt good to give some positive and practical guidance about having one-to-one conversations that actually address matters and allow solutions to come to the surface. I think this is particularly important at time when so many employers will be having difficult conversations or facing challenging situations with team members.

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Employment Q&A Webinar

In our latest employment Q&A session we were once again joined by Marianne McJannett of TC Young, this time to discuss some of the key changes and challenges foreseen with the introduction of the new flexible furlough scheme.

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