A Brief Guide To Helping Employees Restart Their Careers After a Sabbatical

When a talented employee has dedicated several years to your organisation, their decision to take some time off may come as a surprise. And no, we’re not just talking about a week-long vacation. More and more employees are seeking extended leaves, paid or unpaid. The reasons range from experiencing burnout to wanting to spend quality time with loved ones. 

Even if an employee is on long-term leave, they are still a part of your team. When it’s time for them to come back, employers and HR managers should take the necessary steps to make the transition seamless. In this post, we’re sharing some valuable ways you can support your employees returning from a long break. Take a look.

Set Up a One-On-One
There’s no doubt that email and phone calls are vital mediums of communication in most workplaces. However, it would be best to set up a one-on-one meeting for an employee returning to work after an extended leave. They are probably feeling stressed and anxious about getting back to work after a long time. Talking to them face to face will help ease their nerves. 

This meeting is a good opportunity to discuss any changes in their job description. You should also inform them about the changes in their team and familiarise them with any new additions. 

Sort Out the Paperwork
Whether the employee is returning to a different position or they have changed their last name after marriage at the UK Deed Poll Office, there will likely be some paperwork to go through. Make sure you get such administrative tasks out of the way as soon as possible so that the employee can focus on their work.

Highlight Major Changes
Has your company gone through a major organisational restructure when an employee was gone? Are there noticeable changes in the workplace culture? Have you moved your operations to a co-working space? Did you introduce a remote working policy? The employee should be promptly made aware of such major changes. It would be best to communicate these changes in a detailed email.

Give Them Time
Things change quickly in the business world. Even a minor change can feel shocking to an employee who has been out of the office for a while. It’s your responsibility to reassure them that it’s okay to take a couple of weeks to get familiar with everything. Just one meeting isn’t enough! 

Consider Phased Return
Returning to a hectic work schedule when you’ve been on a long leave can be stressful. You can consider a phased return for an employee who was on a sabbatical. Reduced work hours, lighter duties and other reasonable adjustments are a good idea. You can gradually increase their responsibilities over time.

Reintroduce Company Culture
Good workplace culture makes employees feel instantly at home. Even if an employee is returning from a long leave doesn’t mean they are obligated to work without any breaks. Encourage them to work reasonable hours and take breaks to avoid burnout. 

Specify Priorities
Employees that have been on a leave of absence may struggle to identify important tasks. Their manager should look at their workload and help them pick priority projects.

Ensure Clear Communication
Communication is key to help an employee feel comfortable and confident about their return. Prior to their rejoining date, ask HR managers to reach out to the employee to ensure they are ready. They should address any concerns or questions the employee may have. 

Wrapping Up
Returning to work after a long maternity leave, illness, or a personal break can feel overwhelming. From evolved job roles to changed organisational structure, there can be a lot to take in. Hopefully, the aforementioned tips will help you welcome back employees and assist with reintegration. 

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29 November 2023


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