Tom Gibby is the founder of The Bot Platform that provides companies with the tools they need to provide better employee experiences.
We spend a vast period of our lives working, about 40 years on average. That’s a long time and during that time a person will undergo many life changes that can be transformative: bereavement, sickness, mental health challenges, existential crises and the arrival of a child are just a few examples of radical life change that can result in employees taking extended time off.
When paternity leave is about to end and a return to work is on the horizon, the prospect of returning to the fray of industry can be filled with anxiety and trepidation. It’s an ‘intense physical and psychological adjustment’ according to Denise Rousseau, a Professor of Organisational Behaviour and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University.
In a very practical sense, trying to pick up where you left off after any time away you may notice the landscape has shifted dramatically in a short space of time. Just look at how many different tools we use at work now compared to before the pandemic. It’s akin to turning on the news after a media blackout. The sheer amount of change and things to learn can feel overwhelming. Not to mention the sheer weight of e-mail clutter, the thought of going into that can send shivers down the spine! Then there might be a feeling of guilt: ‘I’ve been off, I’ll have to work harder to make up for it’. Clearly more support is needed to help fathers returning from paternity leave.
Employers must do more if they wish to retain working fathers, especially in the shadow of the Great Resignation. And even well-intentioned managers and co-workers can fall short in this regard as taking time out of their schedules to help with those re-integrating can be time-consuming. Although of course, it is certainly worth doing: according to CIPD research shows that employees are more likely to return to work safely and productively following long term absence if they are well supported during their absence and on their return.
One way to help ease the way back into work might be using a tech innovation like The Bot Platform’s The Reboarding Assistant, which connects with existing communication tools such as Workplace from Meta and Microsoft Teams to broadcast messages directly to selected colleagues, welcoming them back to the office and sending across any re-onboarding information that may be required.
Adding that bespoke check-in is also helpful for more sensitive subjects/reasons for long leave such as bereavement or illness.