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How to Return to Work After a Long Leave


Returning from a long leave could often be overwhelming, both to the employee and the manager. While the employee is anxious about getting back to work, getting up to speed, and readjusting to working life, it is the manager’s responsibility to ensure that the transition is smooth and productive for both the employee and the team.

team meeting

(Photo Credit: Kevin Dooley/Flickr)

In a previous post, we discussed what you need to do before proceeding on a long leave. In this post, we discuss how the employee and the manager can partner to ensure a smooth or at least a much less bumpy road back to business during and after the leave.

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During the Leave:

Employee Manager
Keep your team updated: Let your team know why you’re taking the leave, whether it’s for the birth of a child, taking care of family, time off for travel, or any other reason. Stay connected to your colleagues and let them know about your status if you are comfortable sharing. Stay in touch: Connect with the employee by sending a bouquet or a signed team card for major life events in the employee’s life, to show a personal connection and empathy.
The manager can share team updates, org announcements that are important, at the frequency discussed before the leave.
Give sufficient notice of your plans of return: Plans change; that’s the reality of life. If your intended date of return is no longer the same, share this information as much in advance as possible. If you are unable to return, offer to share referrals for your position if you have any.
If you need special accommodation or a change in role/schedule, giving advance notice will help your manager plan for suitable options for you.
Plan ahead for the return/back-fill: If your employee doesn’t want to return to the same role and she has given you sufficient notice on her return make a transition plan, explore roles that could be mutually beneficial for the organization and the employee.
If the employee doesn’t plan on returning, you have the time to reassign roles or turn your temporary arrangement into a full-time situation.

After the Return:

Employee Manager
Be true to your terms of return: Whatever your work arrangement, whether it’s part-time or full-time, be true to your work, and deliver according to expectations. Hopefully, because of the support provided by your manager, you will be able to adjust and ramp up faster in your role. . Give them enough time to ramp up: Although he may have been in the role for a while, a long break could mean that he will need time to get himself up to speed — even if he’s been in touch with work throughout his leave. It could take some time to return to full productivity.
Be patient with yourself: Sometimes, things may just seem different or difficult to cope with. Finding a balance may seem very challenging at the beginning, but before you make your decision and compromise on any of your priorities, be patient with yourself to truly assess your situation and explore your options. Be understanding: Having a baby or returning from a prolonged illness could make returning to work a very emotional decision. Be as supportive and understanding as is feasible.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you taken a long leave or are considering one?  What was your experience? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


Padmaja Ganeshan Singh
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