Regardless of the reason for their absence, the return to work after illness or injury can be incredibly daunting for any member of staff.
Even if your employee knows you or their manager well on a personal level and has been with your company for several years, they may still feel anxious at the thought of returning to work after a lengthy period off.
Therefore, to ease their mind and ensure that they settle back into work comfortably, it is a good idea to offer extra support to staff when they rejoin the workplace.
To give you or their manager an idea of what the employee may be expecting, or will benefit from after their time off, here are a few pieces of guidance to help them have a smooth return to work.
A work capability assessment
Before an employee returns to the work environment, it is a good idea to check that they are truly ready and able. A great way of evaluating whether an employee is fit to return is by offering a work capability assessment.
This will include a professional review of their current wellbeing, and determine any issues they may face when returning to their role.
It will also offer any support that the team member may need during the process, for example a rehabilitation programme, or even just a safe space to talk if they wish.
Not only will this make an employee feel much more prepared and confident in their return, but it may help to reduce any risk of absenteeism in the future and strengthen the entire team.
Keep them in the loop
A simple action which will ensure that the process of returning to the office is not intimidating is to ensure that the employee is kept up-to-date with business and social events that are occurring while they’re away.
This will ensure that they do not feel out of the loop or forgotten about, and therefore lower the level of anxiety that they may be feeling about returning.
In addition, by sending the employee a simple email or company bulletin, it will reduce the need to train them in new processes and updates when they return.
Once the employee has returned to work, it is a good idea to offer regular opportunities to provide each other with feedback.
This will mean that they are able to update you on how they are feeling, and if they think there are any changes to be made that may make it easier for them to perform their role.
Along with this, it will allow you to offer encouragement on their performance; an incredible thing for the employee to hear if they have been worried about coming back to work.
Encourage a supportive environment
Ensuring that the office is a safe, open environment where the team can discuss mental health will greatly help an employee settle back into work after a period of absence.
The employee would feel more relaxed about sharing any worries they are having and feel comfortable in talking to colleagues about their feelings and concerns.
Another benefit of this environment is that it may help to improve absenteeism in the workplace, as staff will feel less like they need to struggle with their issues at home.
Promote healthy habits
Encouraging regular breaks during the working day and after-hours activities will encourage socialising between colleagues. This is a good way to promote a relaxed, friendly atmosphere.
The benefits of a good work life balance will also mean that the employee will feel less stressed, and more able to perform their role to the best of their ability.
Following these guidelines will help ensure a smooth return to the workplace for your employee. Not only will these steps demonstrate that you care about them on a personal level, as opposed to just a professional one, but it will help strengthen the bond between the whole team.