Returning to work after an extended period away can be daunting and even stressful for any employee. No matter why your staff are taking a leave of absence, transitioning back to the workplace can naturally leave staff feeling anxious and overwhelmed.
Long term leave can occur for a variety of reasons: maternity or paternity leave, ill health, mental health issues, or for compassionate leave. Either way, a return to the workplace can be a shock to the system.
In this blog, we’ve detailed four ways to support your staff make a smooth transition back to work.
Need helping finding the right employee benefits to support the wellbeing of your staff? Give our award-winning team of brokers a call on 01273 974419 or email us at [email protected].
Build good communication throughout the process
It’s important to keep in touch with your staff during their absence and after their return to work. Ultimately, this is about finding out what kind of help you can offer and letting them know that support is there when they need it.
Also, ensure your staff are fully aware of what to expect when returning to work, such as any new working arrangements, or if there is additional training required to get them up to speed. Ongoing support might be required, so arrange one-to-one meetings if necessary.
The same goes for keeping in touch during the absence period. Communication lines need to stay as open as possible to make sure your away staff feel in the loop with the rest of the business. Though it’s important not to overstep the mark and bombard them with updates they don’t want!
Another key area of communication in your business lies with your line managers. They need to be able to hold difficult and sensitive conversations with other employees and understand the support services available to them. Such services might include online resources, wellness apps, Employee Assistance Programmes, health insurance policies and counselling services.
Adopt the flexible approach
Each one of your employees is different, so what might work for one person, might not work the same way for another. So, be ready to adapt to the needs of the person in front of you. But some conditions, both mental and physical, can fluctuate, which in itself requires a little ‘flex’ from an employer.
Flexibility can also extend to the way in which work is done. Most digital companies are already exercising some form of remote working (whether partial or full time), but flexibility can also be offered in the hours that employees work, AKA ‘flexi time’.
Flexible working arrangements can be helpful to anyone returning from a leave of absence, not just working parents. Giving your people the opportunity to move at their own pace will reduce the chances of them becoming overwhelmed and suffering any further setbacks – whether they continue to recover from illness, emotional distress, burnout or any other related malady.
Educate your team! Addressing any potential stigma or lack of understanding in the workplace, especially around mental health issues, will create a supportive and inclusive environment for returning staff. This could be achieved through:
- Signposting to relevant digital resources
- Regular one-to-one meetings with staff
- External training e.g., Mental Health First Aid courses
Recognising that returning to work can be difficult and stressful for a lot of employees is also a way to break down any stigma surrounding the transition. For example, staff could have concerns about their ability to perform their role or anxiety regarding other colleagues. Businesses must be sensitive to this and provide appropriate support and zero judgement to help the transition.
Offer the right employee benefits and insurance
Setting up the right employee benefits and health policies can help your staff in multiple ways. Below we have listed a handful of employee benefits that can directly help your staff when they are returning to the office, or if they are still on a leave of absence.
Group Income Protection
One of the most direct ways of helping your staff is via an Income Protection scheme. Not only does it pay extra money beyond the scope of statutory requirements, policies also offer expert assistance designed to help employees recover quickly and make a speedy return to work, and sometimes even support them with that transition.
Group Health Insurance
Group Health Insurance gives staff access to private health coverage for a range of treatments and services. Time is often of the essence when it comes to health concerns, so receiving fast treatment is important to help them return to work, but also get follow-up checks as and when required. Services can include mental health support and physiotherapy, but policies will vary so it’s important to check the fine detail.
Group Health Cash Plans
Group Health Cash Plans are a lower-cost option to help support the routine everyday health needs of your staff, with services such as physiotherapy, online GP services, health screenings, eye tests, counselling services and more. This is a great way to get support to your teams which they can access themselves with ease.
Employee Assistance Programmes
Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) equip staff with a toolkit designed to help them to build emotional resilience when dealing with difficult circumstances. Support and services related to mental, financial and emotional wellbeing are provided in one accessible location, at the touch of a button.
EAPs are a great offering to help staff access the support services they need whenever and wherever they need them, providing autonomy over their own health and access to professional counselling services.
Online benefits and wellness platforms
There are a wide range of digital benefits platforms which host a range of wellbeing tools. Some may include a full service EAP (see above), while others simply have a wide range of wellness tutorials and support tools covering a range of issues related to physical and mental wellbeing. Such platforms can vary massively in terms of features and functionality, from simple phone apps to platforms which integrate with HR software.
Need extra help in knowing how to best support your staff?
Having the right support systems and services in place is vital to get your employees back up and running after taking time off from work. As you can see, it encompasses people management, working practices and your employee benefits offering.
We can help with the latter. Our expert team of award-winning brokers at Engage Health Group will take you through your options and gather a variety of quotes from across the whole market, whether it’s related to Group Health Insurance, Life Insurance, Income Protection or Corporate Wellness Programmes.
Contact us at [email protected] or call 01273 974419 for no-obligation advice and support.