If you have a team member returning to work after struggling with poor mental health, you may be unsure about how to carry out a mental health return to work interview. In this blog, we share our tips to help you carry out a successful and supportive return to work interview.
Why Do We Need Return To Work Interviews?
If an employee has been off work for a prolonged period of time, it is always best to carry out a return to work interview. It gives you a chance to make sure your employee is ready to return to work and catch them up on what they have missed. It also allows you to offer support, discuss workload and highlight any projects that the employee may be working on.
From a management perspective, a return to work interview will demonstrate that the business is effectively managing absences. It will also demonstrate that the business cares about the wellbeing of their team.
What Is The Aim Of A Mental Health Return To Work Interview?
Unfortunately, there is still a stigma surrounding mental health. So, carrying out a mental health return to work interview may be challenging when compared to other return to work interviews. But they are essential if you want to give your employee the best possible start as they return to the workplace.
A mental health return to work interview is very similar to a normal interview. However, the main aim is to create an open and honest environment where the employee feels supported as they return to work. The interview should be handled with sensitivity, care and confidentiality.
Our Top Tips On How To Carry Out A Mental Health Return To Work Interview
Here at Mindful Partners, we are a specialist recruitment agency that helps people who have been off work due to mental health get back into the workplace.
We have first-hand experience of how challenging it can be to return to work after struggling with poor mental health. We also understand that knowing the best way to support the mental wellbeing of our team can be confusing. But we are here to help.
Here are our top tips on how to carry out a mental health return to work interview:
Keep It Informal
Think of the return to work interview as more of an informal chat. To ensure your employee feels comfortable discussing their return to work, hold the interview in an informal but private setting. If the interview it too formal, it may be harder to create an open and honest environment and may cause further stress or anxiety for the employee.
Be Supportive And Open
Ask your employee how they feel about returning to work. As no two mental health conditions are the same, you may want to gain more information about the employee’s struggles as this will help you provide the support they need. For example, you may want to ask about any triggers within the workplace that may add to mental ill-health.
Bear in mind that the employee may not want to discuss the full extent of their mental health struggles. It is important to respect how much or how little they want to share.
Highlight Support Available To The Employee
Outline the business mental health policy and discuss any additional mental wellbeing support that is available to the employer, such as access to a mental health professional.
If your business does not provide mental health support, this may be a good opportunity to ask if there is anything that would benefit the employee that the business may want to invest in going forward. However, try not to make promises that the business cannot deliver on.
Confidentiality is one of the first topics you should discuss in a mental health return to work interview. The employee may want to keep their reason for absence private. Or they may want to discuss it with their colleagues in their own time.
Re-cap What Has Been Going On In The Business
Filling your employee in on everything that has happened during their absence is a great way to catch them up and keep the interview informal. It will also help them feel more prepared as they return to their job role.
Highlight The Employee’s Importance To The Business
After spending time out of work, your employee may need reassurance when it comes to their future in the business. Use this as a chance to reinforce the employee’s importance to the business and show your appreciation for the employee. Highlight that you will do what you can to help the employee have a successful return to work.
Ask About Medical Advice And Discuss Reasonable Adjustments
Discuss any medical advice that may have been given by a GP or occupational health professional. This will then lead to reasonable adjustments that may be made to support the mental wellbeing of your employee.
This might include flexible working hours, frequent breaks or changes to workload. The HSE have a return to work questionnaire that may be useful for employees who have been off work due to stress.
Schedule An Informal Follow-up Meeting
Explain how the employee’s return to work and progress will be monitored. Then schedule an informal follow-up meeting at some point within the next 2-4 weeks to see how the employee is settling back into their job.
Regular communication, such as one-to-one chats may help your employee feel more comfortable discussing any problems they are having.
Get In Touch
We hope our tips on how to carry out a mental health return to work interview have been helpful.
At Mindful Partners, we are a recruitment agency with a soul. We are dedicated to helping people who have overcome mental health issues get back into the workplace.
If you are looking to employ the perfect candidate for your business, get in touch. Alternatively, if you are recovering from poor mental health and are looking to get back into work, give us a shout or submit your CV here. We would love to help.