The return to work after having taken parental leave, sick leave, a yearlong sabbatical, or a long trip, can sometimes be as exciting as it is frightening. Here are two experts who share their advice on seamlessly reintegrating back into the professional world.
Whether an intentional or unintentional interruption, when the time comes to step back into your office, you will often face anxiety from not being at your best. An obstacle that you will face while trying to recover your professional identity and enjoy stimulating challenges.
However, focus on managing your expectations and be patient! “It’s a marathon, but people sometimes approach it with the energy of a sprinter.” Certifies Mathieu Guénette, director of professional services at Brisson Legris, a firm mainly specializing in career management.
The return to work should be a transitional experience. “It’s normal for the first two or three months to be a little harder and tiring,” highlights Nathalie Martine, president of Enjeux Carrière, who offers management and career transition support. “You need to accept it and give it time to get back into your routine.”
Do not try to impress at any cost
Both the employee and employer should lower their expectations and focus on reasonable, essential objectives to avoid misunderstandings, hence the need to communicate this with your manager. At the beginning, instead of setting the bar too high while wanting to accomplish ambitious tasks, Guénnette recommends being put on short projects directly related to your skills. He explains, “Winning fast, little victories are good for your self-esteem and is the reason we return to work.”
People who spend months outside of the professional world often transform. Becoming a parent, leaving for the other side of the world, surviving cancer, or crossing the desert will cause repercussions in your private life. The specialist adds, “This transformation stays even after you have returned to work. You need to stay in tune with yourself and genuinely identify with yourself like others. Even if you’re scared of being let down, it’s better to say no and respect your abilities, ambitions …”
Avoid being alone
Instead of focusing on performance, prioritize integrating into the workplace. “We tend to focus on working,” remarks Guénette. “But it’s also important to spend time with other employees in order to stay up-to-date.” Relying on colleagues lets you obtain support, and feedback on your work, especially from those hired to cover for you when you were busy with your baby or recovering from an illness.
If the return to work causes too much anxiety or does not go well, do not hesitate to consult a professional specialist for professional support.