Returning to work after an injury or illness can bring with it a multitude of stresses. Have things at the office changed in your absence from work? Has your illness changed your ability to work in some way and has your mental health been affected by your ideal? These are all considerations that need to be made, particularly if the worker in question has made a no win no fee claim against the company and are unsure about how they will be treated on their return.
According to the National Accident Helpline “Make it Right” campaign, seven out of ten people who had an accident had suffered from a mental health issue as a direct result. The exact issues varied but 35% suffered from stress and 34% from anxiety, with 13% suffering more severe panic attacks.
More alarmingly, 57% are worried about losing their job as a result of their injury and subsequent absence. This is why employees need adequate support from their employers when returning to work – it’s an often difficult transition that demands a soft pair of hands and an understanding shoulder.
Laying the foundations
It’s up to the employer to prepare the office and ensure the groundwork is laid for a call and comfortable return. If possible, allowed for a phased return so that you can take it in stages and not overwhelm them. It’s also important that the employee is open about the extent of their injuries and what that means as far their comfort and safety at work are concerned.
Open a transparent line of dialogue with your employee and let them know you’re there for them if they need anything. Arrange a “return-to-work” meeting ASAP and be open with each other about what is expected and what duties are realistic. These are not the kind of conversations that should be one-offs either but should be staged so that you’re having regular updates and keeping them up to speed.
Pitch the benefits
Employees should be made aware of any benefits they might be entitled to, including statutory sick pay. There are also Access to Work grants that can cover practical support in the workplace. Then, of course, there are personal injury claims to consider, which could seriously help alleviate any financial worries that employees might be suffering as a result of their accident or illness.
Ultimately, it’s about being open and respectful of your employees and understanding their needs and how their ordeals might have shifted their workplace perceptions. Be open, be kind and be willing to work with them, not against them and you’ll be able to cultivate a safe, happy and comfortable environment for everyone.
By: Mark Hopkins