The COVID-19 pandemic has had a substantial economic result on companies in the UK. The government has offered a COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme to assist businesses to keep workers through this challenging time. Staff on furlough will also need to adapt to a notable change.
A furlough is a brief pause or layoff from employment, where the worker usually gets to return to their position when the leave has finished. The government scheme is an immediate short-term answer to the COVID-19 pandemic. See details of the government scheme on their website.
To start with, we all have neurodiversity and as a result, are all different. Some neurodivergent people may welcome furlough as it could help them to deal with this turbulent time. However, other people may find the process more challenging.
Autistic, dyslexic, dyspraxic (etc.) employees may be anxious about whether they will have a position to come back to. Moreover, they may feel that they are not appreciated adequately. Some neurodiverse employees that have been supported by Exceptional Individuals have mentioned feeling punished,especially if they learn that other co-workers are very busy. Furthermore, some employees talk about the distress about being confined, particularly those living on their own.
Be transparent and honest with the team. Tell the relevant team why they have been put on furlough, and do not make misleading guarantees. Be thoughtful of the various emotions the colleagues may be going through.
Planning meetings with each person can be beneficial, Talk to their manager and ideally have them take part in the meeting.
Ensure that you give your employees written information so that they can review all the facts of the furlough in a quieter environment after your first meeting.Give them the opportunity to question the facts in the information if they need confirmation.
If so, how are they going to handle their neurodivergence during this period? If they have characteristics associated with, For example, Aspergers. Do they have any worries with ordering food and medication if they take any? Make sure that contact details of support organisations have been passed to them like Exceptional Individuals.
A challenge related to neurodivergence could be, reading difficulties, confusion, less of a routine and concentration troubles, to name a few. How are they going to handle these when they are at home for a notable time? Are there patterns/ routines that they may find comforting that could be affected as a result of the pandemic? Direct them to local organisations and foundations such as the British Dyslexia Association, National Autism Society, Dyspraxia Foundation for help.
Consider arranging weekly wellbeing calls with staff that have been put on furlough. While they cannot assist the company with work, ask them how they are coping. It may be useful to do this with a neurodiversity group (or any group) of furloughed staff so they can share best practice. This will also help with any feelings of social isolation.
Encourage employees to consider their neurodivergence and how they can handle it during this global emergency.
Talk to the colleague about their intentions during their furlough. Have they thought about any areas they want to improve? These may be things that could assist them when they get back to work. For example, training with English skills, Numeracy or any areas they may have been struggling with before.
Encourage neurodivergent staff to keep in communication with colleagues who are on furlough if they want this. A connection of some kind will help all employees feel part of a wider team still. When team newsletters are sent out, make sure all staff that have been put on furlough staff are included too.
Speak with employees about volunteering. Employees who have been furloughed can volunteer, as long as they can come back to work when required. Volunteering can improve wellbeing. Furthermore, there are many local charities and support groups who need volunteers to support vulnerable people. To support Exceptional individuals, sign a volunteer expression of interest here.
Other things to think about
Is there help available to neurodivergent employees when they return. If they have been on furlough for a long time, they could find it challenging to adjust to ‘normal’ work-life from the office. Moreover, their quality of work may be lessened while they get back to the old routine.
Reach out to other support agencies or contact us.