Managing staff transitions back into the workplace after absence

This week research from parenting network,  found that 40% of women returning to work fail to find a position in their chosen field and 19% trade down jobs, taking a lower level position then they had before they had a child.

These statistics show that, despite all the talk of flexibility and progressive work practices, we have a long way to go when it comes to accommodating the needs of return-to-work mums.

This issue rightly gets a lot of attention in the media right now.  But something which deserves a bit more airtime is the question of how we support those who do return to work after what a can be a long gap in their employment.

It’s an issue which isn’t just confined to working mums but has an impact right across the workforce concerning those who have long term illness, caring commitments, bereavement and sabbaticals.

It’s also the issue that was addressed by Emma Spitz from Executive Coaching Consultancy in our second Connected HR Webinar where she gave insight into how organisations can better set themselves – and their returning employees up for success. Here are the three action areas I took away from her presentation:

1 - Understand the return to work challenge: when you are part of an organisation you reinforce your skills, your belief in your ability to do the job and your understanding of what you need to do next through day-to-day interaction with an organisation. Take that away through a career break and add in the huge changes that can happen in a short time in today’s world and you have the ingredients which will challenge the self-belief of even the most confident people. Organisations need to recognise this as the starting point for bringing people back into the workplace.

2 – Understand that people change: birth, illness and caring for others will change the outlook and needs and expectations your employees have around their work when they return. Our lives may not have changed in the time colleagues are absent but theirs will have done significantly. We have to anticipate that and put plans in place to help people when they return to work. Seeing things from their perspective is key.

3 – Understand it is all about the line manager: The strength of the relationship with the line manager, says Emma, is the biggest success factor in helping employees return successfully from a long absent. Integral to that is trust, effective communication and having process for re-inducting your people.

In taking this approach employers should be far less likely to lose the talent they have invested in and shape new roles which fit around the needs and expectations of employees when they return after an absence.

If you want to see Emma’s slides and hear the webinar you can find it here along with a great case study of how law firm Olswang approaches the issue

This article was written by Andy Philpott.

Author: Andy Philpott | Category: Blog | 02/10/2013 | 0

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