Managing a divided workforce


The furlough scheme was and now has proved to be a lifesaver for many businesses, but it has come with some difficult decisions and had some unexpected impacts on morale and team dynamics.


  • Employees who have not been furloughed have had very high workloads, often taking on accountability that previously wasn’t theirs.
  • Employees who were/are furloughed might have felt/feel helpless and less valuable.
  • Furloughed people may be worried that they would be/will be first in the line for any potential job cuts.
  • There may be resentment or frustration towards those who have still been involved in the business and know what’s going on.
  • There may be resentment towards those who had/are having ‘time off’ whilst being paid to stay at home.


All of this and more needs handling carefully and has the potential to cause tension and conflict leading to impacts on engagement and productivity. Consider some of the following ideas:


  • Communication is everything – do your best to reassure and make people feel valued.
  • Build in time for extra team meetings, huddles, catch ups and give people the opportunity to ask questions and share concerns.
  • Avoid small problems becoming a bigger issue – deal with them, open and honest conversations are key.
  • How about a re-onboarding strategy? Get your team involved in what’s needed.
  • Develop handover plans so all know and understand their responsibilities, especially any changes.
  • Prioritise time with furloughed staff to bring them back up to speed, be sensitive and flexible and make sure they know they are integral to the business.
  • Spend time with non-furloughed staff to re-distribute the right parts of their workload.
  • Communicating both short and long term goals to provide clarity will be important.
  • Reassure your people they will always be treated fairly.
  • Team building sessions and activities,
  • Buddy up furloughed and non-furlough team members
  • Rewards and recognition will be important, especially if you can find a way to honour your non-furloughed people.
  • Lastly, a great opportunity to ditch obsolete working practices and embrace better ways of working. Empower your team to get them talking and working together on re-designing their work practices and solve problems.


Remember that emotional support might be needed, there’s been a lot going on and many people might be struggling.


If you have an accountant, they should be your first stop for business advice. If you don’t have an accountant or they can’t help, BuBul has a wide range of experts available. For more advice, why not contact our expert* Juan on LinkedIn?

*We’ve picked experts we know and trust who are good at what they do. All of them will give you at least an extra 30 minutes free advice if you contact them and would then charge their normal prices. They don’t pay to be on BuBul and don’t give us any money from anything they earn as an expert.