Facing steep drops in business and mandatory shutdowns, many U.S. businesses furloughed workers rather than fire them in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, furloughs offered a way for companies to manage costs through what appeared to be a short-term crisis.
As the pandemic continues and efforts to reopen the economy accelerate, companies find themselves in limbo. Their employees aren’t new, but neither are they in a daily habit of coming to work. Work itself may have changed as well due to new social distancing, PPE, or sanitation demands.
Onboarding furloughed workers isn’t identical to onboarding new hires. The processes parallel one another, but bringing back furloughed workers presents unique challenges.
2020’s Unprecedented Furlough Trends
Business shutdowns, shelter in place orders, and quarantine demands imposed by the COVID-19 outbreak left many workers unable to go to their place of work in early 2020. Millions of workers filed for unemployment as they lost their jobs or faced furloughs.
Yet optimism remained high in the early months of the pandemic. A Washington Post-Ipsos poll in May 2020, for example, found that 77 percent of furloughed workers believed they’d be going back to work shortly.
As the pandemic continues,
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