To make your work reintegration as smooth as possible, it is important to make a clear step-by-step plan. It is unrealistic to simply continue from where you left off. Therefore, it is good to explore what best suits your current situation in consultation with your manager/supervisor. As preparation, you will look at the things that cause you stress and prepare for any obstacles. You can use the following step-by-step plan to help with your preparation.
Step 1. Drawing up the step-by-step plan
In this step, you will map out what you are going to need to take the first step. A few things to keep in mind:
- Is it necessary to change your position/function?
- Can you start in your own department?
- Which people can support you at work?
- Are there conflicts that require special attention?
In this exercise, you will assess all your work-related tasks based on pleasure, burden, time pressure and dependence on others. Give each task a score and write them down in each column. You can find an example below.
By using this table, you can see which tasks are more suitable to start with during the initial phase of your return to work at a glance. If there are other important criteria, you can add additional columns.
Step 2. Negotiate the step-by-step plan
Next, you will discuss the plan with your supervisor in order to come to concrete agreements about resuming your work. What activities are you going to perform, when, at what pace, in which department, in what time frame, how will the assessment work, etc.? In addition to your supervisor – who regularly evaluates your progress – a case manager with whom you can evaluate your performance can be appointed as well.
Step 3. Start and evaluation
Start with a few half-days per week and regularly ask your supervisor or company doctor for an evaluation. During the treatment, the intensity of symptoms/complaints are still monitored, work events are recorded, and obstacles and possible solutions are discussed.
Step 4. Build-up
You will have included the build-up in the step-by-step plan. With each following step, your complaints may temporarily increase. This is understandable and a normal part of the process. Therefore, it is not a reason to immediately make adjustments to the plan. Proper monitoring of complaints and a good progress evaluation are very important here. Try to make increases in work gradual and preferably spread them over smaller blocks over several days, rather than starting with one full working day. In addition to extending your working hours, you will also work towards carrying out a full range of tasks. This also means that you will gradually take on more complex and taxing tasks.
Step 5. Evaluation
Discuss and agree on arranging sufficient moments for evaluation in the long term. During these evaluations, you will monitor whether and when full resumption of work is feasible.
Keijsers, G. P. J., Van Minnen, A., Verbraak, M., Hoogduin, C. A. L. & Emmelkamp, P., (2017). Protocollaire behandelingen voor volwassenen met psychische klachten.