It is a truth probably worth remembering at this most difficult of times that nobody goes into business to lay people off.

For the very great majority of employers, letting people go is the very last thing they want to do.

But, as these last few weeks have shown us, sometimes even the best-run business is forced to take difficult decisions.

As more and more companies have shut down in the face of the coronavirus, more and more businesses have faced the prospect of laying people off, or at best putting them on furlough.

As we all know, furlough leave has been temporarily introduced by the government to help keep employees on a company’s payroll without them working. It’s a key part of the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which is now open to any employer across the country.

The scheme is aimed at supporting employers who cannot pay staff wages because of coronavirus and will meet up to 80% of furloughed employees’ usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage.

It’s a huge boost for businesses at a time of great uncertainty and if you’ve not looked at what it covers, now is a good time to. Just visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

But even if you can get Government help, this is going to be a hugely stressful period for all employers. So how do you manage the inevitable stress which comes with dealing with the unknown – as all of us are doing at the moment?

The first thing to remember is that increased anxiety is perfectly normal in these circumstances. Nobody knows how long the current situation will last or what its eventual impact will be, so it’s bound to raise our stress levels.

But there are things you can do to limit this anxiety and help you get you – and your company – through the crisis in the best possible shape.

Make sure you follow your procedures by the book. Not only does this give your employers confidence, but it also means you don’t have to worry about complications further down the line. And engage in meaningful dialogue with your staff whilst you are about it. Don’t be afraid to tell them that you don’t have all the answers – because nobody does.

It’s also a good time to make sure you are staying in touch with your support networks. If you are a member of a professional or trade organisation, talk to them about the steps that you should be taking as an employer.

If networking groups are meeting virtually, join in and share experiences with other employers. Everyone is in the same boat at the moment and just talking through the situation can be a major help in reducing stress.

It’s also a good idea to think about how much news you need to consume with regards to coronavirus. It is, quite literally, the only story in town as far as the media is concerned and therefore the coverage is wall-to-wall and round-the-clock. Give yourself some time away – and try to avoid the more sensational news outlets.

At the same time, there are plenty of reliable sources of information for when you do need specific advice or support – such as the Government website mentioned above and the NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ In times of crisis it is important to make sure we are getting our information from trusted sources.

For that reason you may want to avoid some of the more lurid social media channels and accounts, but it’s really important at a time when everyone is self-isolating to stay connected. Use the phone, video chats and all the other tech at your disposal to stay in touch with your family, friends and colleagues as much as you can.

There’s no doubt that the next few months will be tough for all employers. But by working to reduce our own stress, we stand a much better chance that our companies will be ready to spring into life when the virus is finally overcome.

Remember – if you want any help, advice or support, we offer a free consultation. Just click on the button.

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