Why a slow and steady return after absence is best for business

Does your employee want to jump straight back to work after having a baby, an illness or personal bereavement?

Well, long-term, it might be better for them, and your business, to consider a phased return.

At Confidence to Return we’ve seen real benefits from supporting employees through a gradual return to work after time off to deal with a major life event.

Returning to work can be a daunting prospect. Coping with major life changes can drain self- confidence, and recovery after physical or mental ill health can be slow and unpredictable.

Give employees the chance to find their feet at a managed pace and you give them the best chance of making a successful transition back into the workplace.

Meaning of ‘phased return to work’

‘Phased return to work’ embraces the idea of employees returning to work in gradual stages, before they can complete all of their normal tasks or work all their usual hours.

It’s essential to reach an agreement with your employee – and that’s just one area where Confidence to Return can help. We know everyone is different, so solutions need to be flexible, well planned, and include regular reviews to check that they are working.

What a phased return includes:

  • a gradual build up towards the employee’s usual hours and duties that begins with hours of work that are manageable for the employee at the current stage of their recovery
  •   a timeframe that may be as little as one week, and not usually more than 4-6 weeks, unless the employee has a condition with long-term fatigue
  • work timings that offer flexibility, for example hours that allow an employee to avoid a commute in rush hour traffic
  • duties that are beneficial to the organisation but allow the employee to be confident in their return. For example, removing the need for direct customer facing work for the start of the phased return
  • adjusting plans to keep things on track

At Confidence to Return we draw up a detailed plan for your valued employee’s return, working with HR, and their team where appropriate. We consider how we can be flexible about duties and hours to make sure they can manage comfortably, and what to do if recovery turns out to be slower than expected.

And we keep them in the loop by letting them know what’s going on at work.

Figures for long-term sickness

Why is this important? Well, sickness absence is estimated to cost the UK economy around £15 billion per year, and long-term sickness – defined as an absence that lasts longer than four weeks – accounted for up to 75% of the total sickness absence costs in 2008, despite only making up 5 % of total absence.1

Benefits of phased return for employers

  • reduces need for someone else to cover the work and so reduces cost
  • makes employees feel valued and supported, increasing staff retention and reducing recruitment costs
  • demonstrates how you treat employees facing difficulties, creating a positive culture and boosting morale
  • reduces likelihood of employees not returning at all, saving recruitment and training costs
  • prepare your business to enable and encourage an ageing workforce. Avoid losing them to early retirement.

  Benefits of phased return for employees

  • being in work is good for health and wellbeing, in general, and brings financial security
  • return to work brings routine and a sense of normality. It increases self-respect, and boosts mental health and social inclusion
  • could increase a person’s speed of recovery and prevent potential relapses or complications resulting from continuing to be off work.

  Confidence to Return programmes are:

  • flexible and tailor-made to match your business needs
  • delivered as one to one sessions, by email, phone or group workshops

For example, we offer:

A Return to Work Programmeto help employees step back into work after a long break. It helps them deal with fears, feeling overwhelmed, and a loss of confidence.

A Parental Programme  which is more than traditional maternity leave coaching. Becoming a parent is life-changing, whatever your gender or family format. It brings fresh challenges and new priorities that can make it hard to balance a new family with a career.

Example of programme content

  • managing guilt
  • expectations, fears and limiting beliefs
  • confidence and Mindfulness
  • integrating work and parenting
  • maintaining career momentum
  • time management

Your actions and attitudes can be crucial to an employee’s successful return. The way you treat them while they are off work will have a profound effect on how they view your company and their colleagues.

Confidence to Return takes the pressure off you as an employer and frees up your valuable time. So, get in touch and see how we can help.

1Dame Carol Black’s 2008 report ‘Working for a healthier tomorrow


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