How to Return to Work After a Furlough

Returning to your job after a furlough is likely to raise some complicated emotions. This expert advice can help you work through them.

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Soon after the coronavirus pandemic struck, one in four Americans lost a job or took a pay cut — in most cases, for no reason other than unprecedented circumstances.

Even if you are among the fortunate who remained employed, chances are that you know someone who was furloughed. In the depths of the economic crisis, some 32.1 million Americans were receiving unemployment assistance benefits.

Many of those who were temporarily laid off are now back at work. And although that’s a positive development, returning to the workplace is no easy task. It presents new challenges and evokes a wide range of daunting emotions: relief, hesitation, anxiety, fear, and self-doubt.

“We’re facing levels of complexity that few people have experienced,” says business psychologist Camille Preston, PhD, “and even fewer have developed the capacity to address and even discuss.”

Navigating these new waters isn’t easy, but our experts’ insights can help you manage and address the accompanying emotions.

is a Calgary-based freelance writer and editor.

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