How effective return-to-work interviews can reduce employee absence rates – guidance from XpertHR

XpertHR says effective return-to-work conversations can help to reduce short-term sickness absence and the associated costs, and boost employee morale and engagement.

However, all too often the line managers tasked with ensuring they happen view them as an administrative burden or avoid holding them for fear of having to discuss difficult issues.

To help HR departments ensure their line managers are equipped and confident to conduct return-to-work meetings, XpertHR has produced a line manager briefing offering practical guidance on holding and getting the most out of return-to-work meetings, as well as “talking points” for training sessions.

The briefing covers how to prepare for the meeting and important considerations such as appropriate body language, using open questions to encourage dialogue and how to guide the conversation. It also offers tips on what to do if there are suspicions that the sickness is not genuine.

Here are some of main dos and don’ts for line managers when it comes to return-to-work interviews:

  • Don’t view return-to-work meetings as an administrative burden, or as a means of reprimanding employees for being off sick.
  • Do recognise the value of return-to-work meetings in supporting the health, wellbeing and productivity of your team.
  • Don’t avoid return-to-work meetings because you may have to discuss awkward or difficult issues.
  • Do make sure you carry out a return-to-work meeting after every period of sickness absence, however short.
  • Do talk to everyone on their return to work, not just those employees who you feel might not be genuinely ill or whose absence levels you perceive to be problematic.
  • Do approach the meeting with a positive mindset.
  • Do try to put the employee at ease and keep the conversation as informal and relaxed as you can.
  • Do listen actively.
  • Do be supportive, empathetic and patient.
  • Don’t be confrontational.

To read the full Line manager briefing: Return-to-work meetings after short-term sickness absence from XpertHR click here.

For more information on XpertHR visit www.xperthr.co.uk

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