How to help employees return to work easily and effectively

returners, returning to work
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Article provided by Melissa Sergeant, Managing Director, Bishopsgate Financial

Returning to work can be one of the most daunting tasks for people, particularly following time out of an organisation for parenting or family commitments.

However, there are a number of ways that employers can help smooth the process and allow returners to re-enter the workforce easily and effectively.

Scheduling regular contact while they are away

From the get go, line managers should agree with the employee a schedule and way of keeping in touch while they are away from the business.

The schedule needs to be flexible and done in a way that is convenient for the employee. This could mean ensuring regular email contact, arranging catch-up calls or, if suitable for the employee, scheduling opportunities for them to come back in to the office environment.

Fundamentally, it remains the responsibility of the manager to provide employees with any necessary information and key news while they are away so they stay fully up to date.

This is particularly important when there is an item that could have an impact on them when they return.

Start planning the return to work process early

Prior to returning, the line manager and the employee should commence discussions about the re-entry process.

You’ll need to discuss and agree with the employee what their role will be and where they fit in the team. There may have been changes to the make-up of the team or a restructuring of the department while they have been away.

On top of this, you will need to confirm the date of re-entry and whether this will be a staggered start or even on a part time basis. The employees’ circumstances may have changed, sometimes dramatically, so they might not be able to come back on the exact terms that they left on.

Another important element to consider is to agree possible options for the employee to have a Keep In Touch (KIT) day or half-day with their team prior to their re-entry. This will make the process easier for everyone involved, returnee and other staff within the organisation alike.

Be prepared for the day  

On the date itself, the line manager (or their delegate) should be present to greet the returner as they arrive and to make sure they have met everyone in the team. Organise a team lunch the first week back as well.

At Bishopsgate Financial, we have an onboarding schedule to bring people back into the team in a structured way. This includes informal and formal meetings and training sessions.

This programme enables returners to upskill and refresh their industry knowledge, enabling them to immediately add value to their organisation.

We also cover the basics such as ensuring their building access pass is active and all IT system access is setup and ready to go.

Doing these small things tells the returner that they are a valued member of the team and that they can contribute to business success immediately. It also helps to encourage the person to re-integrate quickly and effectively into their team.

Ultimately, it’s essential for employers to take returners on a case-by-case basis in order to understand their individual needs and requirements. By keeping in touch regularly, planning their re-introduction early and being on hand to ensure their first day back runs smoothly is a great starting point.

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