Health and WellbeingSix ways to help employees return to work after mental ill health

Six ways to help employees return to work after mental ill health

We are all faced with obstacles at work and sometimes just coming back after a holiday can feel challenging. However, when an employee is returning to work after a mental health issue, the experience can be even more daunting.

This week marks World Mental Health Day, Liz Walker discusses how employers can support staff returning to work after issues with their mental health.

Feeling isolated

  • When people are absent from work due to poor mental health there’s a risk they feel they’ve lost a big part of their identity
  • Why people who’ve experienced mental health issues are so important to your business (i.e.: diversity of perspectives, resilience, more attuned to distress in others)
  • How to communicate this positively to resolve stigma surrounding mental health issues

Help with work-related issues

  • Not all managers will benefit from mental health training
  • How managers can still assist those who have struggled through practical work-related advice
  • (i.e.: challenging incorrect thoughts, clarifying expectations and reallocating workloads)

Invest in early intervention policies

  • A growing body of research shows employees who feel valued have lower rates of sickness absence
  • Introducing policies to ensure struggling employees are supported too
  • (i.e.: expert presentations, EAPs, prioritising emotional intelligence when recruiting)

Be flexible

  • Why a phased return is useful helping employees reintegrate into work
  • Recommendations for reasonable adaptations to support returning to work (e.g.: adjusted hours, working with a “buddy”, additional breaks etc.)

Look at the bigger picture

  • An employee’s issues may signal other business problems like bullying or unrealistic expectations.
  • How businesses can use these insights to address any warning signs and take action to reduce stress in other employees

Stay in touch

  • Don’t forget about someone who goes off sick. They may feel lost and alone.
  • The best ways to keep in touch with employees to ensure they recuperate and recover

By Liz Walker, HR Director, Unum UK

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