When an employee has been out of work on sick leave or maternity leave, or any other type of leave, a special "welcome back" is always appreciated. A warm welcome helps smooth the transition for the employee and the rest of the team.
Review these tips for welcoming back an employee from leave, with a general example letter, and letters for a return from sick and maternity leave.
When a coworker has been away from work on leave, coming back to work can take some adjustment, not just for the employee but for their colleagues and boss too.
Develop a Plan
Don't just assume everything will fall into place once the employee returns. Create a plan to address the following:
- Scheduling. Will the employee return to full-time work or on a part-time basis? Will they need flexible hours? Shorter work days? Telecommuting options?
- Accommodations. Does the employee require any accommodations in the office (e.g., a more ergonomic workstation, a cubicle closer to the bathroom, elevator use rather than stairs, additional work breaks)?
- Workload. Does any work need to re-assigned to other coworkers?
Also meet with the worker's colleagues to ensure that everyone understands the situation upon their return, keeping the discussion positive and upbeat. There's no need to share any of the details about the employee's condition or the reasons for the leave.
Provide a Personal Greeting
Personally greet the employee on their first day back. Bring them up to speed on any significant company changes or updates during their absence and help them get back into the flow of daily work, emails, meetings, etc.
Be patient during these early days, and be prepared to walk the employee through any changes to workflows and company policies. It may take the employee time to adjust and get back into the groove.
Sick leave can be due to physical or mental illness, and it may be the short or long term. Regardless of the issue or how much you know about it, offer kindness, sympathy, and understanding for your coworker who has gone through a hard time and may still not be fully recovered.
Respect Their Privacy
Allow your coworker to talk as much or as little as they want about their illness and absence. Don't overwhelm them with questions, overdo the sympathy, or act like nothing happened.
Offer your support, letting them know that you're grateful and relieved to have them back and that your door (or Zoom) is always open.
What to Include in the Letter
Your email message doesn't need to be lengthy. Start with a short paragraph welcoming the employee back and letting them know they were missed. Then offer to provide help and advice during the transition back to the workplace.
Sample Welcome Back Letters
Basic Welcome Back Letter
Here's a general welcome back letter for an employee who had returned to work.
General Welcome Back Email Example
Welcome back to the team! We have missed working with you over the last few months, and we’re so glad to have you back.
If you have any questions at all during the transition, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’m available for anything you need to know.
Welcome Back from Sick Leave Letter
Here's a sample welcome back letter to send to an employee who has returned to work from sick leave.
Sample Welcome Back Letter From Sick Leave
Welcome back! We are so happy to have you back at the Sunshine House. We've all missed you, and the residents have been anxious for your return. We were worried about you during your absence, and I speak for everyone here when I say that we are all thankful for your quick recovery.
Take whatever time you need to settle in and get back up to speed. We're grateful to have you back so soon.
Welcoming a Colleague Back From Maternity Leave
Every woman feels differently upon returning to work after maternity leave, and the first weeks back can be a big adjustment accompanied by a mix of emotions. Colleagues want to be supportive but often don't know the right thing to say and may end up putting their foot in their mouth with a comment like "Do you miss your little girl?" Here are some ways to congratulate a new mother, welcome her back to work, and ease the transition.
- Bring flowers: When a group of colleagues buys flowers for a new mom at the office, it's an instant bonding experience. It's a lovely gesture that says they share in the beauty of a new baby as well.
- Show empathy: Ask questions, look at pictures, offer hugs, and tell the new mother that you understand she may not be ready to come back.
While you may not have the power to grant your co-worker more time off or flexible hours, letting her know that you are there for her is good emotional support.
- Organize a group of fellow mothers: Are there other new or nursing moms in your office? Get them together with a private email group or during lunch to commiserate and share how they handle the obstacles. Even if they don't directly work together or don't become fast friends, it's helpful to have a fellow mother who understands how difficult it is to return to work after maternity leave. Having someone who understands and whose door is always open goes a long way towards support.
- Schedule a "bring your baby to work" day: Babies can be passed around and pictures can be taken with lots of oohing and aahing, allowing new mothers time to show off their children.
- Take the new mother to lunch: Let her sit back, relax, and take a breather from the hectic and challenging life of working while coping with the stresses of being a new mother.
Welcome Back From Maternity Leave Letter
Here's a sample welcome message to send to an employee who has returned from maternity leave.
Welcome Back From Maternity Leave Letter Example
It's great to have you back in the office after your maternity leave. I hope you'll find that Suzanne did an excellent job of keeping things organized in your absence. You do so much for everyone here that it was hard to keep up! We are all grateful that you're back.
Congratulations on your sweet, healthy little boy! He is adorable, and I'm glad that we were able to offer you the opportunity to spend these few months at home with him.