Mental Health Training

Furlough – an opportunity for learning

Posted by on 12 Jan, 2021 in Mental Health |

Furlough – an opportunity for learning

As we are nearing one week into our Tier 5 lockdown and many businesses are having or have had to re-Furlough employees, it’s perhaps yet another chance to step back and take stock. A significant proportion of the working population are again Furloughed and now have some additional time on their hands. For many families, this spare time is being redirected towards home-schooling children, but for others, they may already be feeling the harmful effects of loss of structure, purpose, and meaning to their day.

Furlough can offer individuals many opportunities. As well as spending more time with their family’ bubble’, they save the commuter time and costs of going into work (albeit for some the latter is going to be offset against the fact that they may not be receiving 100% of their income since the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme only covers 80% of the costs).

However, some people may be feeling the downside of Furlough that is isolation, loneliness, and/or fears around job security given their employers need to Furlough them. Job security can often feel like something that is largely out of our control, though when we contribute our services as an employee, we can help to make that business more efficient and sustainable. But when we have time on our hands, and our mood or anxiety levels negatively change, so too can our thoughts. These can become catastrophic, black and white, negatively filtered, and on the whole distorted. At these times it is essential to remember what we can and cannot control, and the one thing we do have control over is our learning. Through learning, we can increase our levels of employability and personal development. We have it within our power to improve, and if Furloughed, we now have the time.

Furlough guidance allows for those Furloughed to continue to access training, but this came with rules for the employer,

Your employer can ask you to do certain types of training – for example, an online course to improve your skills. They can’t ask you to do training if it makes money or provides services for them.

Citizens Advice Bureau 2021 [online]

Of course, development doesn’t always look like formal training. It could be small actions, such as bringing our CV up-to-date, spending a few minutes browsing the online job market, and benchmarking what is available within our field of work, or in a desired area of work. However, it could be making improvements to our skills and knowledge so that when we do return to the workplace, we have more on offer to help sustain that business and therefore our position within it. Employers and employees benefit from learning, even if that learning is directly unrelated to the employees’ job role or the business. There are often transferable skills from which both the employee and employer benefit.

One of the positives seen during 2020 is how quickly human beings can adapt to change, and so too technology. In the learning and development world we’ve seen a seismic shift from a face-to-face learning experience to high-quality virtual classroom courses and other forms of online learning. For this to happen courses have had to be quickly adapted, and at the same time, we have seen a widening of the portfolio of online learning that is on offer to the consumer. So the big question for those who are Furloughed is not whether to learn, but what to learn and how much. Furlough could well be an opportunity to add a string to your bow or to simply strengthen it. If the negative risks of Furlough are challenging your mental health, then now could well be the best time to increase your mental health literacy and thus increase protection for your mental health. It could give you the sense of purpose, structure and meaning that may become absent during Furlough. There are lots of training courses on offer, and many can be delivered online.

Suppose you’d also like to gain a related qualification and title to add to your CV. In that case, you could consider training as a Mental Health First Aider, giving you valuable life skills and something else to offer your employer and/or to increase your employability within the marketplace.

Employers now have an opportunity to build on team knowledge and skills so that when their workforce does return to work, they are better equipped to ensure the business is efficient, profitable, and sustainable, and that their employees feel supported. Learning might well bring out positive surprises and identify skill sets not previously recognised in certain individuals. This lockdown is an opportunity for employers and employees to work together for a stronger future.

Find out more about all our online courses here.