A Guide on Returning to Work After Sickness or Injury

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Health Assured team

02 January 2018

Regardless of your job role or the reason for your absence returning to work after sickness or injury can be difficult to do. There could be a number of reasons why you may feel reluctant to step back into the workplace. You might feel intimidated, or as though you have missed out on a lot while you were away. Even though you are feeling well enough to return to work, you may still be suffering from mental health problems, or from an ongoing injury. These factors can all make reintroducing yourself to the working environment much more difficult. Therefore, to make the process a little easier, here are a few tips and guidelines which you can follow to make the experience as stress-free and relaxed as possible:

Keep in regular contact with your colleagues

One of the best ways to ensure that going back to work is not too overwhelming, is to stay in contact with your colleagues while you are off. A simple call once a fortnight will mean that you are not completely out of the loop, whether this be professionally or socially, and it will help you keep on top of what is going on in the workplace. Therefore, when you eventually return, there will be less for you to take in and you will not feel as disassociated from the environment. If you don’t feel well enough to call, you could use email to send a private message instead.

Keep your employer up-to-date

Deciding to keep your employer up-to-date is entirely up to you. You can provide them with as few or as many details of your situation as you want. However if you make sure that you keep them well informed on your recovery and when you are planning on returning to work, this will mean that they have time to prepare for any special requirements you may need. This will also show that you are dedicated to your job and will let your employer know that you care about your role.

Adjust your routine accordingly

Shortly before returning to work, it is a good idea to go to sleep and wake up at the same time as you would whilst working, and to try eating lunch or taking a walk at times you would usually do this on a working day. This will help to get your body clock prepared for your return and ensure that you don’t feel too tired or disorientated when going back to work. It will also help to prevent you feeling hungry or agitated due to the change in timings throughout the day.

Prepare for meetings

Before you return to the office, ensure you are aware of any return to work meetings or paperwork that you may need to fill in. Knowing your company’s procedure will give you time to prepare for these, and mean you will not be overwhelmed or surprised when the day comes around. It will also mean that you are aware of any documents you may need to bring in, and make the procedure much easier for everyone.

A Work Capability Assessment

If a Work Capability Assessment is not already offered by your employer, consider requesting this service before your return. This will be able to give you a great boost of reassurance that you are fit to return to your job, and peace of mind that you will be supported throughout the process. A work capability service can also provide a rehabilitation programme to assist you on your return to work and ensure that you have all the support you may need.

Return at your own pace

If you feel especially overwhelmed or anxious about returning to your workplace, you could always consider a phased return to work which can help to ease you back into the process. For example, returning part-time will allow you to rest and recover when you need it, and slowly get back into the work routine without overworking yourself or putting yourself under too much stress.

Take care of yourself

A great way to ease your stress, and ensure that you are physically and mentally ready for your return to work, is to take part in some wellbeing activities such as yoga, light jogging and healthy eating. This will make sure that your body has what it needs to function well, and your mind will not be overworked upon your return. Following these guidelines should help you to make your return to work much easier. Remember that if your manager asks about your time off, then try to be as open and honest as you can. At Health Assured we work with companies to support their employees’ health and wellbeing, which includes offering confidential support when staff are returning to work. If you want any more information about our services to pass on to your employer, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team of specialists, as we are always here to help.

Discover how an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) can support your employees who have returned to work after long term sickness.

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