An article in HR magazine today highlights the problem that many people, especially those who have been unemployed in the longer term, experience when they get a new job. Roughly 4/5 employees (not just those who ‘return to work’ (RTWs)) report experiencing ‘stress’ at work in the last 12 months. The author’s argument is that this is likely to be exaccerbated for those who are RTWs though we don’t actually have any evidence to back this suggestion up.
Labelling it “stress” is, perhaps, an exaggeration and doesn’t do them, or any peers who are genuinely suffering from stress, a service. What many RTWs experience is anxiety – which is fuelled by their experiences of the past, uncertainties around their new role, and their own confidence levels. This applies at all ‘levels’ in an organisation, and could be seen as part of natural working life. That’s where the danger lies – that it is simply dismissed.
While the right mindset of those managing returners is important – it is no different from the mindset that they should have with all staff. A manager who doesn’t care for the well-being of their people isn’t going to treat someone returning to work any differently.
Ideally this is addressed by the culture of the organisation, where productivity is encouraged by nurturing people rather than cracking the whip or attempting to incentivise them. Where such a culture doesn’t already exist, then packages of both internal and external, coaching and mentoring, given as part of the job rather than on an ‘as needed’ basis seem to be the best tool at the hands of an HR professional.
It is interesting to see that there is a growth in popularity of courses, at all levels, aimed at developing both coaching skills AND those of mentoring.