I feel unwanted at work after furlough

By Holly L

April 19, 2021

A couple of weeks ago a client referred a colleague from their senior team for some coaching.  I was told that she had just returned from 3 months of furlough leave only to hand in her resignation.  My client told me she did not have another job to go to, he really didn’t want to lose her, but more than that he was genuinely worried about her and wondered if a coach might help her work things through.

My coachee shared that she was really struggling back at work.

“I always loved my job. I was confident, I got on well with people, I felt competent; now, I am not the same person anymore.  I don’t have confidence in myself, I feel like the new girl, constantly checking things with others. I don’t know why I was put on furlough when others weren’t. What’s wrong with me? I feel insignificant and dispensable”.

The experience had left her feeling very insecure.  She had spent many months wondering whether she would lose her job.  I could hear the hurt in her voice and knew she needed a safe space to be seen and listened to.  My coachee had not expressed any of these feelings with her line manager.  After a couple of sessions she had the confidence to do so.

Upon hearing this my client asked if I would help him to structure a session in the next meeting which would encourage his team to talk about how they were feeling. It turned out that those that had not been on furlough leave and had continued to work were resentful of those who had and vice versa.  There was a sense of relief as people realised they were feeling the same things.  It really cleared the air. My coachee has since retracted her resignation.

This has really brought home for me how profoundly the COVID-19 pandemic has affected people.  A study led by the University of Glasgow, and published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, found that whilst lockdowns, are vital in protecting the general population,  they may have a “profound and long lasting” effect on mental health beyond those directly affected by the virus.

This prolonged period of uncertainty has led to anxiety meaning it’s more important than ever to create an environment where employees feel supported and listened to. In the case of my client mentioned above; she loved her job, but disruption and fluctuating workplace demands meant she was facing pressures inside and out of work that alone, she was unable to find solutions to.

The key to relieving some of those pressures is creating a safe environment where people can really open up. We know those affected by mental health issues can often feel alone and isolated and one of the ways to help combat this is to offer a safe space where they can talk more and be heard.

There definitely seems to be a shift in the focus on coaching right now. Some of my most recent clients have come to me following organisational changes, be that structure or strategy, to create space for them to think and plan to overcome obstacles and identify new opportunities; but I am also noticing that following restructures there’s a sense of wanting to ensure talented leaders feel valued.

Sound familiar?  Let’s have a chat to see how I might be able to help!





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