How to Help an Employee Return to Work Successfully
December 20 2019 - Returning to work for an employee who has suffered an illness or injury can
be a very overwhelming experience. It's essential for an employee to feel confident in their return, and the way you
manage the situation as a superior can have a profound effect on the process for the better. The priority should be the
employee's safety, comfort, and productivity within their job role. There is no point in the employee returning to work
if they simply cannot fulfil their obligations due to a lack of confidence or ability. How you treat them can,
therefore, make all the difference.
Make Contact Before They Officially Return
The employee may be feeling anxious about returning to work, especially if they have not spoken to
anybody - colleagues or managers - since being absent from work due to illness or injury. Reaching out before they
officially return can help them feel more confident about their impending return-to-work date. This could be a simple
call or email asking how they are and whether there is anything they need in preparation, or you may want to arrange a
more official discussion with them to ensure that everything is in order.
Completely Support Them
Your employee needs to know that they have your full support from the moment they return to work. It's a
beneficial idea to meet with them and speak with them straight away upon their arrival, which will enable you to
discuss with them their ability to manage tasks, what they feel they can comfortably achieve and how they would like
their work schedule to be. This shows that you care about their comfort and recovery, and they will, therefore, feel
Your support should also be in the form of keeping a close eye on them, and being aware of any changes
or worsening in condition. It may be that your employee appears to be suffering more which may be a result of medical
negligence; you can, therefore, encourage and support them in making any necessary claims
The employee may need further time off to attend ongoing medical appointments, or may only be able to
work a certain amount of hours before needing rest. Show that you understand and try
and be flexible with their
routine. Permit them time off for any appointments needed and work around them.
Speak to Other Employees on Their Behalf
If your employee's time off has been for personal issues regarding their illness or injury, or perhaps
they simply don't want everyone else to know the extent of it, they will feel more comfortable and supported if you
check in with them what they would like the official stance to be. You can then translate this to the rest of the
team, such as a brief team meeting which explains why the employee has been off and whether they would like questions
about it avoided. This ensures that the employee isn't faced with a barrage of questions upon their return to work.