A word that most of us had never heard of or used before March this year. Now it is hard to imagine a day going by without hearing at least once. It is everywhere – on the news, discussions over dinner, chats in the workplace and video calls.
We know what it means from a practical point of view and that it is a government scheme to protect both employers and employees in the current situation we find ourselves in. It is an idea that divides opinion and will no doubt be a discussion point for many months to come. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? What is the emotional / personal impact this is having on people?
There are seemingly two clear groups with this – those who are guaranteed a return to work and can’t wait to get started again, and those who fear the worst and believe that furlough is just prolonging the inevitable outcome of redundancy.
We are seeing unparalleled levels of anxiety and nervousness in the market from the candidates we are representing. If you are currently on furlough and know that you are absolutely guaranteed a return to your job, you are in a good position, but how many people can truly say this? What will happen at the end of October when the scheme ends? The process brings so many questions and as most people are furloughed at home on their own they can feel very isolated, stranded and out of the loop with all things work related. It brings self-doubt and a new type of anxiety that the UK work force has not faced previously. Redundancies and restructures are common practice in the insurance industry (I have been made redundant twice myself) but they have never happened in the manner that they are currently happening.
So, what next? The honest answer is, who knows, but we firmly believe that the industry will flourish post covid and there are already positive signs. Remote working has always been a concept that has been offered by many employers before but it has never really been totally embraced by the insurance world. This is now changing. Working remotely will undoubtedly become much more of a standard offering from now on, which in turn will mean that people losing roles this year will be able to apply for other roles that were previously out of reach for them due to location.
As history has proved time and time again, times of turmoil always deliver positives after the event. Let’s all stick together and keep battling through this year. It won’t be one to remember but it is certainly one we won’t forget!