As we entered a second lockdown, the Government announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was to be extended until the end of March. By this stage, many business owners had already started to welcome back their furloughed staff in some capacity, and in some instances, decided to make roles redundant.

In my latest blog, I reflect on how managing your team’s return to work – and the possibility of having to restructure or make redundancies – will require strong, compassionate and emotionally intelligent leadership.  Our industry’s finance leaders will need to draw heavily on these ‘soft skills’ to rebuild trust, reconnect and reassure their team, and recognise the efforts of their most important asset – their people.


While furlough has undoubtedly helped some of our Public Practice and Industry clients through these uncertain times, it has also been testing the foundations of their company culture and leadership skills.

Every furloughed employee will have experienced their time away from the workplace differently.  While some will have welcomed the time with family or learning a new skill, others will have struggled financially and emotionally, perhaps storing up resentment about their furlough and eroding trust.  Among those employees who have remained to ‘hold the fort’ during extremely challenging times, there may also be resentment and in some cases exhaustion. And the spectre of redundancy will be looming over everyone.

Communication is king in a crisis and the best way to rebuild trust is for leaders to be open and honest about the difficult decisions they are having to make and consult with staff on the way forward.


The longer team members have spent away, the harder it may have become for them to feel connected and valued.  On top of that, the ‘return’ to work may be a virtual return or part-time return.  Creating opportunities to rebuild emotional connections with fellow team members will be vital, so leaders will need to think carefully about providing safe opportunities to reconnect both online and in person.


For those businesses who have yet to bring back staff after Lockdown 2, there must be well-defined measures to keep people safe and those measures will need to be supported by clear communication to reassure employees who are likely to be experiencing a range of emotions, including fear.  Recognising and supporting both physical and mental health concerns will be of utmost importance and this will likely be an ongoing matter that business owners and leaders have to deal with.


Never has it been more important to recognise the achievements of your team so that they feel valued and remain engaged and loyal.  This might be as simple as thanking employees for their commitment through to financial recognition.  It is also important for leaders to recognise their own need for support to maintain the level of mental and physical energy required to lead their teams through the current crisis and beyond.

Lisa Wintrip

Director, Fletcher George Financial Recruitment

Fletcher George is an independent finance and accountancy recruiter working, primarily with finance and accounting professionals in South West London and Surrey including the Hampshire and Sussex borders.  We recruit for both Public Practice and also for commercial businesses in the local area.

For more information, please contact Lisa on 01372 364 160 or by email: