Restructuring and Back to Work – Post Covid-19

We can safely say that the past 100+ days have been traumatic in so many ways, Covid-19 has affected so many individuals forever as the loss of a loved one can never be replaced, we are now acutely aware of the dangers of social interaction and many individuals are still faced with isolation until August.

Studies now show that 1 in 4 Employees have been furloughed, which as of 28 June is 9.3 million jobs and with 1 in 4 Employers now embarking or considering redundancies to ease the payroll pressure, this does not inspire individuals in the short term.

Getting back to the ‘new normal’

On a positive front many businesses are able to get back to work either now or over the coming weeks, this means as an Employer you will need to adapt to the changes and perhaps a restructure, with this your Employees will need to adapt too.

Your success lies with within any restructure and how open to change your Employees are; what you do is crucial to the success of this, you will also need to enthuse your Employees.

As a country we have been consumed by Covid-19 and for many it has taken over their daily lives, as humans we have a natural instinct to apportion blame on others when things go wrong and this is the same in business, we see negative behaviours, this is our all too familiar ‘blame culture’.

The success of your return to work lies in the planning, execution, and your Employees.

Leading and implementing change is not always be easy; it can sometimes require excellent people skills; this includes skills as below:

  • Listening
  • Negotiation
  • Communication

One of the key skills is listening to your Employees, this may not always what you hear them say directly, for example:

  • Individual consultation meetings
  • Return to Works
  • Office gossip
  • Rumours
  • Surveys
  • Reviews
  • One-one meetings
  • Training sessions

You must act upon this, do this by communicating and negotiating, you will either then get great buy in or epic fall out from your Employees.

Why will your Employees feel this way and what can you do

Loss of job/Redundancy

Change is a natural reaction in business we see this all the time whether this be new processes, systems, technology and or advances that means Employees will work smarter. The overall aim is to create efficiencies, reduce costs and enhance productivity.

Your Employees may be feeling their role is at risk, their hours are to be reduced, this may be causing them distress and worry. Any re-structures within a business or changes to the normal will cause a reaction in your Employees and in some a fallout.

The worry of returning to the workplace and being safe will be a concern to your Employees, they may be fearful, anxious, stressed and worried.

Implement a robust communication strategy

It is imperative the changes and continuous communication is delivered in a way that your Employees will understand. This needs to be the:

  • What
  • Why
  • How
  • When
  • Who

It is important you include to the list:

  • Outcome
  • What success will look like
  • How it will be measured

At this stage you may experience fallout and resistance, it is how you deal with it that matters, by listening to your Employees you can understand their perspective and share your views, by allowing an open communication process and gaining real buy in you will have a better chance, have an open-door policy, be seen and be noticed.

Shock and fear of the unknown

An individual’s reactions can change from:

  • Fear
  • Panic
  • Anger
  • Elation
  • Happiness
  • Enthusiasm


These reactions are natural; allow for emotions and feelings, this period has been difficult and perhaps you need to accommodate their needs for a duration to adjust.

It may be where you are restructuring an Employee is struggling to adjust to the change or to cope with this as they may want to stay in a role that was stable, easier and predictable. They may try to hide under the radar, this may only make them more fearful in addition constantly running away making excuses.

When leading any change planning is essential as it assists in keeping your Employees informed in advance, by doing this you can minimise disruption and manage in bitesize chunks.

A sense of loss of control

It is important to never underestimate ‘Loss of Control’, when an individual feels loss or a routine within their place of work it can have a devastating impact upon them, as an Employee there is an expectation to be organised, this feeling of loss, creates the loss of control over their environment and workplace in general, they feel they are lacking in control over how they work, operate and communicate. This can make your Employees feel less in control, confused and devalued.

If we take the example of the initial ‘Lockdown’ this created an initial sense of ‘Loss of Control’ for many, this for some took weeks to adjust to with working from home and you may need to factor in that this will be the same again preparing to move back to the workplace.

There are ways in which you can counteract these feelings within communication and by empowering your Employees, why not try enlisting your Employees support, when they become involved in the process they will feel included; finally, the provision of regular feedback on their contributions, seek and welcome feedback.

How can you deal with poor performance?

Regardless of Covid-19 your Employees should not be allowed to become complacent, nevertheless, this does happen over time or perhaps they may need some development.

If Covid-19 has provided businesses with one thing that is the opportunity to re-assess and evaluate in all areas, this includes your people strategy.

As part of any restructuring program you will ultimately want to identify roles that are no longer a requirement in your business and then instigate a redundancy program, it is important that you ensure you follow policy and procedures in relation to this, it is worth noting that as part of your program you should use a scoring criteria matrix and this can assist you to manage varying factors as well as poor performance, so long as you use a fair process for all using the same criteria.

It can sometimes be a good time

Under normal circumstances any change would be planned ahead of time, as we have been thrown a huge curve ball we have then been adjusting and re-setting at such a pace, by understanding your business in the short term will make a difference, where you are in a position to plan longer term all the better.

It can be helpful to enlist the help of an external HR professional as they will able to provide you with an overview from an impartial perspective, we find when we work with clients this works well for them and increases their productivity and enhances real grow.

The need for reward

Why have we added this?, under normal circumstances the need for reward is always recognisable when carrying out change, this need not be huge financial amounts, your Employees will value recognition in many ways a real but simple ‘thank you’ message can mean so much to someone, here are some others below, which are the most popular:

  • Working from Home
  • Flexible Working
  • Dependants Leave
  • Pensions
  • Holiday Leave
  • Birthdays off
  • Free Fruit
  • Refreshments
  • Relaxed Dress Codes
  • Health and Wellbeing programs

You could always ask for their ideas; they may surprise you.

Change of support system

It will be inevitable from what we have now discussed your Employees may become worried as they will have built relationships with peers and Managers, you may be proposing changes that mean a shake up in the operational structure. This can leave them feeling isolated and fearful.

It may just be the return to the workplace that is worrying them, after all it has been such a long time now for so many.

Ideas to alleviate these fears are:

  • New team building meetings (online or small groups)
  • Orientation programmes
  • Setting up workspaces
  • Buddy programmes
  • Team training
  • New Style Events
  • Objective setting with Line Managers

Trust and support

We are all aware how damaging Covid-19 has been on lives, families, businesses and the economy and we can safely say we all want to return to normality or what ever that looks like for now.

In order for your return to work or restructure to be successful you need to create a climate of trust and one which is supportive, this involves the behaviours, intentions and faith of everyone; by adopting this approach you will be creating one of dignity and respect, your overall aim will be that you will have less resistance.

Where you are viewed or perceived as mistrusted, your credibility is lost, this can have a detrimental impact.

It is true you need to act upon any issues with speed although being mindful of the current situation.


We provide full end to end support in relation to back to work, change management and restructuring, we can offer this as a Consultancy Project, please just contact us below.

Get in touch: 01254 467156

Also read our latest news with ideas to return your Employees Part Time from Furlough from 1 July.

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