Who can honestly say that they were familiar with the word “furlough” a couple of months ago? It must now rank in one of the most used words of 2020 and I have personally lost count of the number of times I have said or written “furlough” over the last few weeks!
The speed at which the government put together the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) was only bettered by how quickly some businesses jettisoned their staff when the going got tough. I was absolutely flabbergasted at how suddenly and brutally many staff were made redundant or “let go” almost minutes after it became clear that we were about to enter into a crisis, without the forethought, morals or decency to see what support the government would lend before ruining the lives of their employees.
This led to a secondary kneejerk reaction of many of these companies re-employing the very same staff that they had summarily dismissed just days earlier, when they clearly didn’t think they could afford to pay them the following month without government intervention. If leaders are remembered for their actions in times of crisis, there will be hundreds if not thousands of companies whose reputations lie in tatters with their existing employees who will no doubt be keen to head for the exit as soon as other job opportunities come their way. Those that couldn’t (or wouldn’t) offer job and financial security, who didn’t communicate with their staff clearly and regularly, will probably find themselves with a disaffected and unmotivated workforce in the months to come.
It saddens me to say that the recruitment industry was particularly harsh in the treatment of some staff. I lost count of the number of employees cast aside at the first sign of trouble, presumably because the businesses they worked for had very little cash and/or have been poorly run in the build up to Coronavirus bringing life as we know it to its knees.
I was pleased and relieved to be in a position to give all of our staff reassurances that their jobs were safe before the CJRS was unveiled by a highly impressive Rishi Sunak on 20th March, a scheme that calmed the nation’s fear of mass unemployment in the short term. I could not help but be impressed at how quickly the scheme was put together and announced, along with the amendments that were made following the feedback from the world of business – the self-employed, agency workers, those who had moved jobs - all given provision to be supported.
There’s always going to be a certain proportion of the population that you won’t be able to please whatever support you put in place, but now the CJRS has been extended into June it must give millions of people and businesses in the UK peace of mind and confidence to come out the other side of this crisis in reasonable financial shape.
I am pleased to say that Think Specialist Recruitment made a concerted, proactive effort to support every single one of our Temporary Workers that were eligible to be furloughed, paying them every week and ensuring that they have money coming in during the current time. Like so many businesses we’ve had to get to grips with Furlough, the CJRS and HMRC portal to claim back the money for furloughed workers, but I am so grateful that this has been made available so quickly and efficiently. I have spoken to some companies and temps whose agencies have not supported their temporary workforce, even after provision was made specifically to help them. I'm pleased to say that the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) also echoed our thoughts and advised us to "help everyone you can". The REC have been fantastic in their assistance and communication during a time that they must have been inundated with requests for advice, for which we are very grateful.
To say that I’m on a steep learning-curve as a business leader at the moment is a definite understatement! But I’m doing my best to adapt to the current set of circumstances that have been thrust upon us all and ensure the Company is in great shape to thrive in the longer term. We’ll continue to support our staff and Temporary Workers in the meantime and look forward to helping as many candidates and clients when the lockdown begins to ease and we get through this crisis.
I hope that everyone is as safe and well as possible in these strange times. I’m certainly looking forward to getting back into the office and getting the business back up and running again, of course when it is safe to do so.
Chris Jones is the Managing Director of Think Specialist Recruitment, an independent support staff recruitment agency with offices in Hemel Hempstead and Uxbridge covering the Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Greater London area. We specialise in permanent, temporary and contract recruitment with areas of expertise including: administration, customer service/call centre, PA/secretarial, Human Resources, accountancy and finance, sales admin/sales support, marketing and IT Helpdesk/IT support.
Chris can be contacted on 07960 561642 or firstname.lastname@example.org – please contact him with any enquiries.