When Employees have been off work for an extended period of time, it is really important that the employer takes the time to help with their return to work.
An employee could be feeling many things about returning such as:
- They may feel embarrassed that they have been off.
- Worried about what people will think of them.
- Worried about not being able to manage.
Making sure you, as the employer, takes the time to fully plan the return, and really listen to what the employee needs, means that the return is much more likely to be successful.
Companies will often have their own policies, procedures and templates for dealing with staff who are returning to work. As soon as you know an employee is due to return, make yourself familiar with your documents so you are fully prepared to offer support. This also means you have time to ask for support if you need it as well. We have put some resources below which can help with planning for, and implementing, returns to work.
Completing an initial assessment
As an employer it’s really important you take the time to understand what has been going on for your employee that has been off. It is still the employee’s decision how much they share with you, but showing an interest and understanding their needs now, will make all the difference.
The link below takes you to a template for an Initial Assessment. This can be used when first beginning to plan the employees return to work so you can make sure you have all the information you need (that they are happy to share), and then you can move forwards with creating an individualised plan.
Creating a Plan
Once you have done the initial assessments and support meeting with your employee, you can begin to work together to put a plan in place for their return. It might be they have a phased return to work, their duties are slightly altered, or other adjustments are put in place.
The document link below will take you to a template you can use to fully plan the return based on your discussions, and plan it week by week. It will be important to have support meetings with the employee each week to check the plan is still working for them, and if any amendments are needed.
How to survive and Thrive when returning to work – a guide
This document is a guide that employers can share with employees whilst the employee is off work, perhaps when they are starting to think about coming back. It shouldn’t be compulsory for the employee to complete, but it can be a really helpful tool.
There are sections for the employee to put down what support will be helpful form their manager as well, so it is important you agree some time to check in and go through the workbook and act on anything that you can put in place to help.
Surviving and Thriving at Work – a Toolkit
This toolkit is a more in-depth version of the initial guide. This really focus’ on how to stay well at work and what can be put in place to promote this.
As with the previous guide, employees should be encouraged to complete this toolkit themselves, but employers should schedule time to go through it with them – support with completing it if necessary and sharing ideas of what could be helpful, and then acting on points.
It may seem like this will take a lot of time – it won’t. Most importantly, if you invest in really supporting your employee to return to work, it is much more likely they will be successful and retain their job – which is a long-term positive for them, for you, and for the company.