Creating a Return to Work Plan: A Guide for Managers 

abstract diagram using shapes of a return to work plan

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As the world starts to slowly open up after the pandemic, businesses are grappling with how to safely bring employees back to the workplace. Many companies are in the process of creating a return-to-work plan, which outlines the steps and measures that need to be taken to ensure the safety and well-being of employees. 

A well-designed return to work plan is critical for maintaining employee engagement, productivity, and morale. As a manager, you play a crucial role in leading the return-to-work process and ensuring that your team feels supported and comfortable during this transition. 

In this article, we will explore the key steps to creating a return-to-work plan that sets your team up for success. 

Step 1: Assess Your Workplace 

The first step in creating a return-to-work plan is to assess your workplace and identify the areas that need to be addressed to ensure a safe and healthy work environment. This includes evaluating the physical space, work processes, and employee needs. 

Physical Space 

Conduct a thorough review of your workplace to identify potential risks and hazards that may pose a threat to employee safety. Consider factors such as social distancing, ventilation, and accessibility. You may need to rearrange furniture or equipment, install barriers, and mark flooring to ensure that employees are kept at a safe distance from each other. 

Work Processes 

Evaluate your work processes and identify any changes that need to be made to minimize the risk of exposure to the virus. This may include implementing new procedures for hand hygiene, PPE usage, and cleaning protocols. 

Employee Needs 

Consider the needs of your employees and any accommodations that may be necessary to ensure their well-being. For example, some employees may need flexible hours or alternative work arrangements to care for children or family members during the pandemic. 

Step 2: Develop a Communication Plan 

Clear and consistent communication is crucial for managing the return-to-work process. Develop a communication plan that outlines how you will communicate with employees and stakeholders about the return-to-work plan and any updates or changes that may occur. 

Your communication plan should include the following elements: 

  • A timeline for when employees will be returning to the workplace 
  • Information about the measures that have been put in place to ensure employee safety 
  • Details about the process for reporting any health concerns or issues 
  • Regular check-ins with employees to assess their well-being and address any concerns they may have. 

Step 3: Create a Flexible Work Plan 

Flexibility is key to managing the return-to-work process. Create a flexible work plan that allows employees to work from home, in the office, or a combination of both. Consider the needs of your employees and the impact that returning to work may have on their well-being. 

Step 4: Provide Training and Support 

Provide training and support to employees to help them transition back to the workplace. This may include training on new procedures, equipment, and safety protocols. Offer support services such as counselling or employee assistance programs to help employees cope with the stress and anxiety associated with returning to work during the pandemic. 

Step 5: Monitor and Evaluate 

Monitor and evaluate the return-to-work plan on an ongoing basis to ensure that it is effective and meeting the needs of your employees. Encourage employees to provide feedback and make any necessary changes to the plan as needed. 

In conclusion, creating a return-to-work plan is a critical step in ensuring the safety and well-being of your employees as they transition back to the workplace. By following these steps, you can create a plan that sets your team up for success and helps to maintain employee engagement, productivity, and morale. Remember to be flexible, transparent, and supportive throughout the process and to continuously monitor and evaluate the plan to ensure that it is effective and meeting the needs of your employees. With the right plan in place, your team can successfully navigate the return-to-work process and thrive in the post-pandemic world. 

FAQs for Creating a return to work plan

What should be included in a return to work plan?

A return to work plan should include the employee’s medical restrictions and limitations, the date of return, a description of the job duties, accommodations or modifications needed, and a plan for monitoring and evaluating the employee’s progress and job performance.

What are the 5 steps of creating a work plan?

The 5 steps of creating a work plan are: defining the project, identifying the tasks and activities, sequencing the tasks, estimating resources needed, and creating a timeline and budget.

What is an example of return to work goals?

An example of return to work goals may include gradually increasing the employee’s work hours, modifying the work environment to accommodate medical restrictions, providing training or job coaching, and establishing clear communication channels between the employee and their supervisor.

What is the supervisor’s role in return to work?

The supervisor’s role in return to work is to work with the employee and their medical team to develop a return to work plan, provide any necessary accommodations or modifications, ensure the employee has the necessary training and resources to perform their job duties, and monitor the employee’s progress and job performance.

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