Why Return to Work Should Be an Essential Part of Your Leave Program

March 8, 2024

More companies are offering new and innovative paid leave programs to attract talent every year. Our latest report shows that for the second year in a row, leave requests have increased. Of those that reported an increase in leave, 74% said they had 20% or more requests come in than the year before. 

With more employees requesting and going on leave, having a streamlined and supportive leave process is critical for a great employee experience. One part of the process that is particularly important to focus on is how employees return from their leave of absence.  

In a recent survey, we asked employees who had recently taken a leave of absence about their experiences. At least one in 10 reported problems with their return to work, including: 

  • delays in getting access to buildings and systems 
  • a manager who wasn’t prepared for their first day back 
  • restoring benefits and proper pay rates 

Once an employee goes out on a leave, it’s easy to lose track of them. Especially with longer leaves, such as parental bonding time, employees can become “out of sight, out of mind.” That’s why it’s important to have a clear policy and process in place for an employee’s return to work. 

There are many benefits to improving your return-to-work program, including:

  • Improved employee experience, satisfaction, and retention 
    With a clear process for returning to work, employees don’t struggle with added stress during a challenging time in their lives. By making it easy for them to know what to expect and that the organization will be ready for their return, you are showing employees that you value both their time and experience. 
  • Ensuring compliance with laws and regulations 
    With FMLA, ADA, and state leave laws, it’s important to understand what protections employees have while out on leave. If someone needs more leave than what they initially requested and received, it’s important to have a process that helps them fully understand their options under federal laws, state programs, and company policies.  
  • Saving on recruitment costs and avoiding complaints 
    It’s important to make sure your return-to-work process brings employees back to work at just the right time. For employees, it can boost morale, help people recover by “getting back into the swing of things,” and help them feel valued. In addition, when people come back from leave the right way, you don’t have to recruit and train their replacement. You can avoid complaints and workers’ compensation requests by making sure everyone – the employee, the manager, and their colleagues, are all healthy and prepared for the return to work.

Building or improving your return-to-work program can take time and effort, but once the process is in place, your organization will see benefits right away. When you’re ready to get started, you can download our free, step-by-step Employee Return to Work Checklist.

To see AbsenceSoft in action, and learn more about how we can help streamline and automate your return to work program, please schedule a demo today.