My small business was forced to layoff valuable employees that are like family to us. What can I do to encourage these valued employees to return to their positions when my business reopens?

This has been very hard for everyone.  Many companies have amazing employees, and this is not a situation that anyone wants to be in.  How your team recovers from this and how your employees will feel coming back to work with you will depend greatly on how they felt they were treated during the layoff process, and throughout the layoff period.

Have a weekly check in.  Not scheduled as they are not an employee right now, but reach out once a week or so and ask how they are doing.  How is their family?  Do they need anything.  No shop talk, just check on them. Show a genuine interest.

While funds are tight for every company, they are most likely tighter for them, and you may be able to help them out.  

  • Do they need to keep their company cell phone to use while off? 
  • Do they need their laptop so they can help their kids with their home work.
  • Do they need some groceries you may be able to help out with?

Ensure they still have access to their extended health benefits, you do not want your employees to have an added stress if they cannot afford medication or care.  And if you have an employee assistance program in place, remind them of this! As this time people are greatly impacted by mental health and financial health questions.  Most EAP programs can lend support in both areas.

Keep them informed of the status of the business, and your intentions and projected timelines to re-open.  And if there is an opportunity to engage them and ask for ideas or input on how to rejuvenate the business upon re-opening that is great.  They will feel involved in the company and valued.

Once you re-open, make your appreciation known.  Tell them how valued they are, and how grateful you are to have them back on your team.

If there is anything you can do once everything is back up and running to make your employees whole again, try and help.  A small bonus, take care of their cell phone bill, get creative. Anything the company can do will go a long way.

You can also consider providing some additional paid vacation time.  Many people used their accrued vacation, or in some cases the entire annual allotment of vacation during this time to ensure they received some additional pay, this of course means that they will not have vacation time for the remainder of the year.  Depending on the nature of your business if you can close over the Christmas holidays and gift that time to your employees, do so.  If you can add an extra day to a long weekend, great, or allow your employees to take an extra week of paid vacation this year.

While many people have been “off” for weeks and home with their families, and most are trying to do some fun activities, and engage with their loved ones, it is certainly not a vacation.  It is a time of stress and uncertainty. How you treat your team during this time will have a hand in defining who you are as a team and as a company.