GlossaryHR

The Essential List of Human Resource Definitions You Need to Know

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Return to Work

What is return to work?

Return to work describes the process of bringing an employee back to the workforce and potentially the workplace after a period of absence. Typically, the absence has been from a period of sick or family leave. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the absence could be from a furlough or period of mandatory remote work.

What is the benefit of a formal return to work process?

  • Productivity. A formal process for employees returning to work helps ensure the employee is back up to speed as quickly as possible. Changes to their job, new projects, benefits updates, teammates, and work environment should be covered as part of the process.
  • Clarity. Job responsibilities, team composition, work locations, safety protocols and more are clear, removing confusion and accelerating performance.
  • Morale. A formal return to work process aims to quickly and effectively engage returning employees with their job, team, and the company.

How does COVID-19 effect the return to work process?

There are likely many new practices resulting from the pandemic. As employees return to work, be sure you know the federal, state, and local requirements that impact your business. Some examples of new practices you may need to cover with your returning employees are:

  • Frequent hand washing and sanitizing
  • Social distancing measures including occupancy limits, traffic flow floor markings, staggered schedules, plexiglass barriers and reconfigured workstations
  • Masks and proper respiratory etiquette
  • Employee temperature check before entering the workspace
  • Employee screening for COVID-19 symptoms before they enter the workspace
  • Work-from-home job roles
  • Virtual meetings in place of face-to-face
  • Contact tracing and coworker notifications if an employee has been exposed to COVID-19

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