I’ve had the privilege to interview someone who has recently returned to work after six months off battling with cancer.

What is shared here is candid and personal. To maintain her privacy, I am going to call her Sally.

Sally shared with me her experience of going back to work as a senior leader in Financial Services after going through her cancer treatment.

Prior to her sickness, Sally described herself as a very confident, high performer, who ran a tight ship and delivered great results.

In her own words, she could have “done her job with her eyes closed”. Sally had always been very resilient and could deal with whatever was thrown at her.

When Sally first returned to work, she thought because her physical scars were healing that she was well again and ready to be back.

The emotional scars were unexpected.

Unexpected emotional scars

Sally felt a huge amount of anxiety, which she had never experienced before. It was a shock to the system, as was the pace of the business she was in.

It was as though Sally was in a snow globe and someone shook it. Her feet were nailed to the floor and the snow was all around, but she didn’t know where it would settle.

Sally felt totally overwhelmed and shocked. She couldn’t understand why she wasn’t coping when she was such a resilient person. It was like she had to start work all over again.

This was unfamiliar territory and created a lot of emotions and discomfort. She felt unbalanced and like nothing fitted where it was before.

Sally found herself frequently emotional and tearful, which is so unlike her. She needed help and support that she didn’t know she needed or how to articulate and it didn’t seem to be provided by her employer.

Fortunately for Sally, she had a brilliant boss, who was really supportive. Whilst she was unable to articulate what she really needed in terms of support; she was able to ask for someone to hold her hand for her first three months back.

In my experience, it is very unusual to have someone hold your hands for the first three months you return to the business. This is very costly and often resources are not available to be able to do this.

Unlike many others, Sally received this support. She believes that if the support wasn’t there, she would not have been able to do her job. It would also have resulted in a “meltdown”.

Sally has been back at work for ten months now and she has invested a huge amount into her mental health.

There has been a massive change. She is calmer and rational with a different perspective on the business, leadership and the part she plays in the company.

Six months before she felt in control

It took Sally six months before she felt in control and confident in her role. Because of her resilience, tenacity and the support from her boss, she was able to work through this and stands here better than ever.

This could have played out very differently. If Sally had a less supportive boss, if she had not been so resilient and determined, if she had not had the support of her colleague for three months, she may not have managed to work through things.

Without offering return to work support businesses can lose valuable staff

Sally now knows that she needed someone by her side to support her with her business goals and how to process and deal with uncharted territory.

She needed someone who understood what was going on for her and reassure her.
She needed support with her confidence and anxiety.

The company could have lost a key member of their leadership team and experienced the associated business impact.

Supporting someone when they return to work is a key responsibility of any employer and is testament of their commitment to their people.

Bespoke programmes

Return to Work offers bespoke programmes making returning easier for the individual. They also provide certainty to the business that their colleague is getting the best support at the most critical of times.

Return to Work offers a 6-step Confidence Transformation System that supports people who are returning to work and struggling with confidence by rebuilding their confidence so they can return to work better than ever.

Using a blend of NLP, EFT and CBT, the 6-step system is as follows:

  1. Connecting with your boldest self to understand how to align your actions to that version of yourself
  2. Getting clear on your life priorities and creating healthy boundaries to honour them
  3. Learning how to relax and move out of anxiety into balance and control
  4. Letting go of limiting beliefs and creating new empowering ones
  5. Self-care is at the core of this programme, along with all the other elements allowing you to really unlock your personal power
  6. A renewed sense of purpose and empowerment

If you would like to know more about what we do email kirsteen@return-to-work.co.uk.