Coping with change | Returning to work after illness | Remploy

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Coping with change

The main areas where people find their priorities have changed after an illness are:

Work life balance

While this is quite a new phrase, your work life balance has been important for many years. We now know that a healthy balance between our home and work lives are what makes us well rounded people.

After an illness, you may feel that your work life balance is not as you would like it to be.

You might want to change the balance by working flexible hours or fewer hours.


Many people see that they have got into a cycle of needing to work a lot of hours to earn a lot of money to spend a lot of money. Think about your work/life balance and the cycle you are in to realise that you could make major changes for the benefit of you and your family.


A long absence from work can knock your confidence and make the thought of going back difficult to face.

Try to be positive about your time off. Being honest about your illness or injury will help your employers understand why you’ve been off work. Any activities that you have completed during your time off that have helped your personal development will also build a positive image.

Check out our online workshops around personal skills and confidence for more information and useful tips.

With the right approach you and your employer can do a lot to help you return to work. They can support you when you are off work by keeping in touch.They can also be open to suggestions about changing working patterns and duties, perhaps temporarily while you gain confidence to go back to your normal role.

Other practical measures your employer can make include making reasonable adjustments if you are disabled or have become disabled because of your illness.

You may worry what colleagues think about your time off and how much they know. You will need to be reassured that all discussions about your illness have remained confidential and that thought has been given to how the subject of your absence will be addressed with colleagues.

Talk to your employer

It is a good idea to have a chat with your manager, whether it’s a brand new manager that knows nothing about you, or your previous manager. Sitting down and discussing your time off will help you to feel less nervous about returning to work.

Don’t be afraid to speak to your employer about your illness and how it affects you. You may need to discuss taking time off for hospital or doctors appointments or changes to your working hours.

Consider your situation

Being off work can make you think about what is best for you and your long term health and what choices you have.

You can start by building a picture of your current situation. It may help you to make decisions about what you want to do next.

Think about how you would answer the following questions:

  • Does my illness or injury mean I need to think about a new line of work?
  • Do I want to do a different job when I return to work?
  • Will I need to update my skills to get back into my previous line of work?
  • Do I feel that my confidence needs a boost?

Your answers should give you some idea about where you want to be in the future.

Look for a new direction

Having some time off may have given you the chance to think about what you really want to do. You might have decided you want a change of job.

If you had a very active or physical job before your illness or injury you might be thinking about looking into a new area of work.

You can use this opportunity to look at your skills and experience and explore the different kinds of jobs you could use them in.

Why not attend an online workshop on your personal skills to help you identify your skills and how you can use these to change your career.

Talk to our experienced online advisors who can discuss what alternative jobs may be suitable for you.

Update your skills and knowledge

If you want to return to the job that you were in before you became ill, check your skills and knowledge are up to date.

You might need to update yourself on developments, and any new working practices that have come in.

Speak to your employer and your colleagues to ask them what has been going on whilst you have been away.

Before you return to work

Before you call your manager to ask about returning to your job, speak to your GP or specialist to make sure you’re well enough to go back.

If you are well enough, get your GP to write you a ‘fit note’. This will explain to your employer about your illness and will recommend things the company can do to help you at work.

We know returning to work and your first few weeks back at work can be difficult for you.

We have specialist in work support advisors who run advice clinics andwill be happy to discuss any concerns you have. Please ask our online advisors for the times of the In Work support clinics.