Stress Awareness Week 2021 - Returning to Work After Stress

Stress Awareness Week 2021 - Returning to Work After Stress

Nov 4 2021 10:31AM

Returning to work may be a daunting and overwhelming time. But it is important to think about how you and your employer can help to manage your mental health whilst you settle back into work.

What Can You Do As An Employee?

There are a number of different things you could do before returning to work, in preparation to going back to work and once you are back at work. Below are just some ideas of how you could do this:

Before returning to work you could:

  • Visit your GP – who can access if you are fit to go back to work and provide advice to your employer on changes they could make to help you
  • Ask to be referred to the occupational health team – your employer can get occupational health workers to help you compose a back to work plan
  • Contact fit to work – an organisation that provides free and impartial advice on work related health

Preparing to go back to work you could:

  • Keep in touch with colleagues
  • Catch up on news from your workplace
  • Plan to visit your work before returning
  • Arrange for someone to meet you at the entrance
  • Ask to return to work gradually
  • Start to readjust to your work hours
  • Make use of the peer support services

Staying well after you have returned to work you could:

  • Create a schedule with your manager
  • Have regular catch ups with your manager
  • Develop a wellness action plan
  • Look into specialist support services on offer
  • Ask for changes from your employer
  • Find out if you can apply for access to work

What Can I Do As An Employer

Some employers may never have had to deal with someone returning to work after stress. So it is important to know that by law employers must make reasonable adjustments for employees with disabilities or with long term physical and mental conditions.

The best way to understand what your employee requires is to sit down and have a conversation with them. By doing so you can understand the causes of their stress from their perspective, and work with them to reduce barriers to returning to work. As an employer you should ensure that you are open and supportive, making sure that you listen carefully and show an interest in what they are saying, even if you may not agree. A good framework to use as a discussion tool is the HSE management standards for work related stress, as discussed in previous blogs. When going through changes that can be made within the company to accommodate them ensure that you are honest and if there are any changes that cannot be accommodated explain the reasoning behind it. As an employer you don’t want to crate any unrealistic expectations, as this may only increase the employees stress. It is important to let the employee know what has been going on whilst they were away and the value that they have within the company. A plan and achieveable goals should be set and monitored with the employee. This should be followed up with regular communications with the employee in the form of an informal chat. By doing so the employee to open up more and share any concerns or problems they may have sooner.

The HSE has a great variety of information and downloadable resources which can help in the resolving and understanding of work related stress.

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