Truthfully speaking, there is no easy way for an employee to return to work. It’s a major life transition following a serious illness or injury. However, to make it as comfortable a transition as possible, a few steps should be taken. Making an employee who has had a long layoff from work feel better about his or her return has a lot to do with preparing the entire work environment in the right way. And that means getting your entire staff involved.
Consider that things are about to change, not just for one of your employees, but for all of them. Keeping the morale high, within any given workspace, is a bonus for the business at large. If you can find ways to ensure that your place of business is a happy one to work in, everyone will be able to play a big part in welcoming back returning staff members. Here are six strategies to keep the morale levels in your office high.
1. Recognize individual employees. When your returning worker sees that other members of his or her team are appreciated, it will foster a greater sense of belonging to a productive team. It will also motivate him or her to accomplish great feats as well. According to Joy Powers of SparkMinute.com, it’s important to tell people when they do fantastic jobs. “Praise your employees at staff meetings, or take the time to thank them in a hand-written note,” she writes.
2. Allow employees to pursue their passions. It’s one thing to appreciate your employees for the work they do, but it’s an entirely different thing to allow them the time to work on personal projects. “Promote innovation and creativity by allowing time for your employees to work on a ‘passion project’,” writes Alex Fishleder of Maximizer.com. You may find that your attention to the individual goals of your staff members will encourage them to work harder for you.
3. Give them responsibility. Employees like to know that their contributions matter. Often, there is no better way than to communicate that than to delineate important tasks to the various members of your organization. Powers writes that it’s wise to listen to your employees and involve their ideas in your company’s planning. Empowering your staff members will give them greater senses of purpose, encouraging them to make bigger contributions.
4. Offer training. Partner new or returning employees with more seasoned veterans, recommends Powers. One of the best things you can do for your workers is to equip them with all of the tools necessary to complete their jobs efficiently. Powers suggests that you bring in experts for training sessions while encouraging your team members to attend trade conferences and other industry-related events to help develop their expertise in the field.
5. Encourage a good work-life balance. Sometimes, the key ingredient to a positive working environment is ample time away from work. “Since happy employees tend to be more productive, it makes sense for companies to give their staff the time, pay and benefits that are needed to have a successful life outside of work,” writes Fishleder, “Be sure to pay attention to employee complaints about leave, hours, and other factors that may affect their performance at work.”
6. Treat them as people. At the end of the day, this is what we all want, isn’t it? It only makes sense to show your employees that you care about them. And sometimes, the smallest things can have the biggest impacts. As Powers writes, “small gestures like learning your employees’ names, and sending flowers when they are sick can go a long way.” This will be especially important for workers returning after a long time away.