Return to work interviews are the great unknown. Until you’ve been part of one, you have no idea what they involve, how they’re run, or how to make sure you get the most out of them. However, they’re important to get right as they contribute towards the workplace wellbeing of employees returning from long spells of absence and to make sure that their return goes smoothly.
There are plenty of return to work interview templates and example question sets out there, but we’re here to give some return to work interview tips that will make sure that you’re prepared to provide the most effective reintroduction to work possible for your employee.
1. Have a plan
The first and most important step is to make sure you’re going in with a plan of how the meeting will be run. Going into the interview blindly, means you might miss out some of the key elements of the discussion.
Having a solid plan will make sure that you’re thorough and will avoid the interview going drastically off track. This includes having a rough idea of the structure, things you need to learn, and things you need to say.
Any efforts to prepare for the interview will show your investment in your employees return, which will have a good impact on the individual and ultimately ensure they start on a positive note.
2. Keep it Informal
This isn’t a job interview and it certainly isn’t a test. Any employee who has had a significant amount of time off work will have done so for good reason, and a return interview shouldn’t feel like a penalty.
Make sure that you’re keeping the tone of the meeting consistent with expectations and avoid it becoming too bureaucratic or formal. An informal atmosphere will not only help the interviewee relax and feel more comfortable in the interview, it’ll also help to alleviate any anxieties they have about returning to work in general.
3. Be sympathetic
Employees who have been away from the workplace for weeks or months due to illness will likely be a little out of the loop and will need support to get back up to speed. Acting with sympathy and understanding about their shortcomings and pledging your support in helping them to catch up can go a long way towards making sure they’re comfortable in their reintegration.
4. Be clear and honest
Clarity is essential in a return to work meeting, as you only get the chance to reintroduce your employee to the workplace once. Make sure you go over any structural changes that have been introduced since their departure, along with anything that is essential for them to know in order to carry out their role. Making sure that you’re entirely honest and upfront with your expectations and aims will mean there’s no misunderstanding.
Creating an honest line of communication in the meeting could also encourage the employee to open up more and talk candidly about their feelings or concerns. Following these return to work interview tips will help both you and the employee communicate together and complete the transition from laid off, injured, or outright unemployed most effectively.