You are returning to work after a long-term illness or injury and asking yourself the questions: Can I even do what I used to do? Do I want to? Will my health issue prevent me from getting good projects and promoted? How do I talk about what happened and do I want to? I look ok, but will they believe that I don’t always feel well?
In the past year or two, maybe you’ve had cancer, a heart attack, or experienced a spinal cord injury or the onset of diabetes. Or a fluctuating condition like Multiple Sclerosis, Transverse Myelitis, or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. You experienced a health crisis that has irrevocably changed your body and your life. Getting back to work is important to you, not only because of your financial situation, but it’s also a return to some kind of normality.
Or as an HR or line manager, you want to do what you can to ensure the employee’s transition is smooth
You play a key role in managing the transition for these employees returning to work after a long-term illness and want to ensure they transition successfully. But you may be wondering what is good and appropriate for the person, how you determine that and talk about it with them.
With some returning employees, there may be obvious issues and concerns with their re-integration. For others, the issues may remain unseen and unspoken. As an organisation you’ve done everything you need to be doing and are wondering if anything else is out there to help these employees’ transition back into work.
What can make returning to work after a long-term illness go wrong
There can be many things which disrupt a return to work after a long-term illness and some of the most common in my experience have been:
- The nature of the relationship between employee and employer prior to the employee’s health crisis
- The psychological impact of the health crisis on the individual
- Unconscious biases and societal stigmas regarding health, illness and disability and how these manifest themselves in the relationship between the returning employee, employer, and colleagues, and the official and unwritten ways of working in the organisation
A successful return to work is important given how much time we spend on it, the financial security it gives us, and the positive impact it can have on our wellbeing.
Learn about the issues the employee returning to work after a long-term illness or injury may be dealing with
Based on research I conducted for a MA in coaching psychology, I’ll be delivering a free webinar on 26 November, 6-7pm UK time. It will give you an insight into the psychological issues that are often at play for the returning employee. The webinar will also cover the unconscious biases and societal stigmas around health, illness, and recovery that can derail a return to work after illness or injury.
Using real-life anonymised case studies (permission obtained), the webinar will also demonstrate how coaching has helped this population address those issues and the skills returning employees may need to develop. The webinar will not be focusing on HR best practice and employment law.
If you are an HR professional or line manager, this increased understanding of the returning employee’s experience and awareness of societal stigmas will enable you to relate with a deeper level of empathy. That is a key cornerstone of trust, which is essential for good relationships at work.
If you yourself have recently experienced a health crisis and are returning to work, you may find the real-life examples in the webinar resonate with your own experience. You may also get ideas which you can use to ensure a successful transition back into work.
Register for the free webinar here “Supporting employees returning to work after a long-term illness/serious injury”.
It will take place on 26 November, 6-7pm.
I worked in HR, specifically Learning & Development, in professional services both in the UK and abroad. As an accredited coach with the International Coaching Federation, I help individuals who have experienced a medical crisis and want to find a way to live well with the impact.
In addition, I lead the Transverse Myelitis Society, a national UK charity which supports people with rare neurological auto-immune conditions and have implemented a coaching scheme for members. My inspiration for this work comes from personal experience and the belief that it is possible to re-create and live a full and meaningful life within the realities of a challenging health issue. And that work can play a positive role in that.
© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2015