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

  • 2 Min Read

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.

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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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