How to implement an effective approach to long-term absence staff returning to work

Working Towards Wellbeing were recently mentioned in a REBA article about our specialist support work:

Broaching the subject of return to work must be one of the most difficult jobs for HR, especially where an individual is off work with a condition that, to all intents and purposes, used to be considered a death sentence. Cancer, for the sake of an obvious example. But ongoing communication between employer and employee is still important here.

Dr Julie Denning, consultant psychologist at Working Towards Wellbeing, specialists in cancer rehabilitation pathways, says that an increasing number of people are surviving cancer now and wanting to return to work. “We spend over 50% of our time in work – more time than with our loved ones – so a return to work is a vital part of getting a life back on track,” she says.

“We take a light touch approach to communications during the treatment phase, talking about what they like doing, what they miss, how they’re sleeping, how relevant work is to them at that point.

“During recovery, we’ll have more contact and answer questions such as how to do I talk to my employer, what does a phased return look like, and what are reasonable adjustments. We might also talk to their employer if the employee wants us to.

“We can provide referrals – in conjunction with the group IP insurer – to CBT and physiotherapy, perhaps acupuncture or career counselling. It depends what the individual needs. But everything is couched in a return to work context.”

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