40% of cancer patients said they felt discriminated against when they returned to work.

After suffering from a serious illness it’s a natural to want to get back into your normal working routine, if your body has been compromised physically your confidence has probably been knocked, nothing can ever prepare you for the shock and strain on both your body and your mind.

Randstad have put together a new campaign all about returning to work after various circumstances, from serious illness to retirement, mental illness to maternity. In this series Randstad spoke to workers to describe the challenges and emotions of returning to work after a prolonged absence.

Heading back to work after an extended absence will undoubtedly mean a change in your daily routine. For most it won’t be as easy as picking up where you left of and it is important to listen to your mind and body when making the first steps to retuning to work. There’s plenty to think about but here are four crucial things to consider when the time comes.

Ask your GP

It’s a good idea to consult with your GP or your healthcare professional about whether you are physically ready to go back to work. You might feel like you are ready, but recovering from a serious illness really does take time. If they also agree that you are ready to return to the working world, ask them to create you a ‘fit note’ which explains your illness and that the GP has given you the go ahead to start working again.

GP - Returning to work

Don’t rush

It can be tempting to rush back into work as quickly as possible, you may even see it as the end of your recovery and the boost you need for kicking a serious illness. However, it pays to be patient, there is nothing more disheartening then attempting to re-join your workforce and having to leave again because you rushed back when you weren’t quite ready. It may be boring and feel like you are wasting valuable time, but it will be worth it in the long run.

It can also be a good idea to start slowly, with shorter days or coming in a few days away for the first couple of weeks to ease yourself back into it.

Think of number 1

In an ideal world everyone would have a supportive network of colleagues and management, but unfortunately this isn’t always the case. It is important not to let others dictate the terms and speed of your return to the workplace, as this can hinder your efficiently and productivity. If you find either management or colleagues putting pressure on your to either get back to work too soon, or commit to arrangements which are currently not working for you, don’t be afraid to push back and say so, only you know your capabilities and what is right for you.

Be honest

It is important regardless of whether you are returning to work at an old job or starting a new one, to be honest with your employer about your condition, any special requirements you may have or anything that will ensure a smooth return to work. Not only will this ensure you are respected within the workplace, your employer will see you as a trusted individual who can manage their own circumstances and commitments carefully. It is important to be honest from the beginning, as this will help not only yourself but also your boss to set realistic performance targets and timelines.

Ensuring you surround yourself with supportive family, friends and most importantly colleagues, without setting too high expectations of yourself will ensure a smooth and healthy return to work.

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