Opinion | Furlough is no Longer a Favor - Severance or Recall Your People Now
I loved my job.
I loved walking through the back hallways of my hotel and being greeted around every corner by a cheerful co-worker. I loved planning meetings and the creativity that I was able to explore. I loved the unknown of what the next convention group would bring. I loved my bosses and overall when I was furloughed from my hotel on March 26, 2020, it was with my head held high knowing that I made the most of every moment during my eleven years with the same company.
I know a lot of people in the industry that feel the same way I did about the jobs they once had. A lot of people called their place of employment home, which was only fitting as most hospitality workers spent on average 50 to 60 hours a week at work.
Although sadly, for so many, the passion they may have felt for their employer is swiftly dwindling away as people in the hospitality industry are going on month eleven of being furloughed and see no end in sight.
I am fortunate to have resigned and closed that chapter in my life on a positive note with only the good memories intact. However, as the months go by and we draw closer to one full year of good people being furloughed, the truth is, many have stopped looking at furlough as a favor, but rather would prefer separation and severance pay.
That's tough for a lot of people to say out loud because they are still technically employed but an overwhelming amount of once salaried professionals I spoke with, from all walks of life, feel this way. The main reason: the severance money will go along way for their families.
Speaking from someone who was furloughed for seven months, I can say that around month six was when I started to wish I was laid off. It wasn’t because I no longer liked my job, it was mainly because I didn’t want to be in limbo anymore, and I agree that severance would have saved me from some really tight financial struggles.
To clarify, this is just one person's opinion, and I'm not trying to speak on behalf of everyone furloughed, but I do have a lot of friends and colleagues in hospitality and this is a resounding feeling of many.
Additionally, I understand that a lot of companies are paying for health insurance during furlough and the benefit does help a lot of families. It certainly helped me during my furlough period. For that reason, some may want to stay on furlough and I respect that. However, health insurance is not guaranteed and can easily be discontinued at any time as some hospitality companies have already started to do.
At the beginning of this pandemic mess, everyone was extremely grateful to have this understanding from their employer that once things "blow over" their job would be waiting for them as if they never left it. That’s what furlough is. However, we all walked away from our jobs not knowing how long this would last. In all fairness to employers, they didn’t either, however, I think we can all agree that eleven months is too long to have people on furlough, and a year is just brutal.
So what's the alternative? In a perfect world, everyone is recalled now. The reality, though, is that business demands aren't there to justify a full recall of all furloughed employees. Therefore, I believe that proper severance packages are in order here, and not in another six months now, today. Let's end the stalemate... employers, make a move.
And, as a business owner, if you're really on the fence about what to do, then take a page from the Los Angeles Chargers owner Dean Spanos, and provide a COVID Hardship Allowance (bonus) to all furlough employees, paid out based on years of service, to help your loyal employees get through these difficult times. Employers don't have to let go of their phenomenal workers, and the employees get the aid they need. Win/win!
"...take a page from the Los Angeles Chargers owner Dean Spanos, and provide a COVID Hardship Allowance (bonus) to all furlough employees..., to help your loyal employees get through these difficult times."
The message here is to allow that positive, happy, memory from March 2020 your employees had of working for you to resonate and be the lasting impression they have.
Don’t let that memory spoil because you think you are doing employees a favor by keeping them furloughed. Do the right thing and severance them, because there are a lot of families that could use the money right now and we owe our dedicated hospitality professionals a lot better.
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