Successfully reintegrating your workforce : Return from furlough

As the UK’s coronavirus response moves towards the reopening of many businesses and a September 2021 end to the Job Retention Scheme we all call ‘furlough’, many business and HR leaders are increasingly aware of the need to successfully return furloughed employees to work.

With numbers of employees on furlough reaching 4.7 million people in January 2021*1, reintegrating this volume of employees is not only an employer brand, welfare and organisational imperative, but it’s also a national economic imperative if the UK economy is o achieve it’s forecast of return to pre-pandemic levels by second half of 2022*2

Search the term ‘return from furlough’ in Google, and the most prominent of the 360,000,000 results are all focused on the ‘legal’ and ‘statutory’ requirements that all employers need to be aware of.

Alongside this, we need to recognise that neither the workplace, their personal circumstance or society as a whole is the same as when they last worked in the organisation.  Most organisations have had to embrace large scale change.  For some this may only be in ways of working, for other’s roles may have been redefined, colleagues may have left the organisation, or the whole focus of the company’s purpose and productivity may have significantly shifted.

At Leading Edge we’re convinced that integrating people back into the workplace isn’t the ‘unprecedented challenge’ that it may first appear as.

Lessons from Mum

Around 340,000 women go on maternity leave from work each year, and research into what they feel makes for a successful return to work gives us a clear blueprint of 5 elements to enable reintegration of furloughed employees.

  1. A trusted friend or workplace buddy to give workplace social support
  2. Reinduction processes that help me navigate the system and equipment
  3. A purpose driven culture that is visible at the team level
  4. The relationship with my line manager
  5. My confidence in my ability to do the job

Added to these 5 critical factors is one additional complexity in the ‘Return from Furlough’ dynamic – the team I am reintegrating too.

We need to give recognition and consideration to those team members who were not furloughed.  Those who remained in the workplace, and the impact the pandemic has had on and for them shouldn’t be underestimated.

Successfully integrating furloughed employees is a whole team activity, that businesses and organisations need to be planning for now, to maximise the opportunity.



  • Inform Me
    • Give me the context that helps me understand the new landscape
    • Connect me with my line manager and a workplace buddy


  • Enable Me to join
    • Support me, my manager and my colleagues to create space for my role back in the team
    • Enable me through new tools and processes I now need to do the job
  • Engage Me and the Team
    • Coach me to recognise my feelings and reactions
    • Create space and opportunity for the Team to explore together


If you’d like to talk to us to explore how we can help you to help your furloughed employees back to work, we’d love to hear from you.

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Michaela Weller

Director, Brand & Offer

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