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The Passed Burden: Helping Employees Doing The Work Of Those In Rehab

Posted by Guest Post on Sep 29, 2020 4:13:00 PM


Employee wellness is your top priority when it comes to creating a healthy workplace. It is also important to consider that health doesn’t just involve the physical aspect, but also keeping your employees’ mental wellness in shape.

Maybe you have taken a positive stride in protecting your employees’ wellness by allowing them to take an extended leave for drug or alcohol addiction rehab. That’s a great thing--but have you considered your employees who will take on the responsibility of those on rehab or extended leave?

Their struggles may be silent, but that does not mean that the challenges they face are any less than those who are temporarily away. In fact, an article in the Harvard Business Review showed that many company strategies that encourage employees to speak up in their workplace struggles usually fall short. Why? It is because employees feel like leaders do not promote an environment where they can speak freely without consequences.

Below, you will find some ways to help those who are passed the extra burden during an employee’s extended leave.

Provide incentives

Employees feel valued when they are given the right compensation for the work they do. In this case, you cannot expect an employee to take on the extra task for nothing in return. This will allow harboring feelings of resentment as well as poor output quality for the added responsibility.

Some ways to provide incentives include:

  • Extra hourly pay: You can offer overtime pay for the extra hours your employees will be working.
  • Fixed incentive: If work is something output based rather than an hour-to-hour task, you can offer a fixed rate for those who will be handling the added responsibility.
  • Non-monetary incentive: If added rates are out of your budget and the added work is simple, you can offer non-monetary incentives such as gift cards, certificates, or any other item in exchange for their little extra work.

Providing these additional incentives sends a message to your employees that you are mindful of the effort they are putting as your workplace landscape is on a temporary change.

Ask specifically

Another simple yet effective way to give the right kind of assistance to your employees is to ask in particular about the help they need.

Send a message, hold a meeting, or give a call to your employees and ask what areas they need help with. If they need extra equipment to finish the task, provide it accordingly. Embrace workplace environmental changes if needed. Make sure to meet these requests within reasonable boundaries to avoid adding to your employees’ mental burden during this challenging temporary season.

Distribute work accordingly

If the employee who went on rehab or medical leave has a lot of work on their hands, do not expect just one of your workers to do all the tasks by themselves.

Most managers make this mistake thinking that this is something reasonable when they provide incentives. Yes, incentives are important, but you must also consider that your employees have their own responsibilities prior to the temporary change.

Thus, you may need to distribute the on-leave employee’s work to multiple workers depending on their level of responsibility. Here are some ways to distribute work appropriately:

  • Hour distribution: If you plan to provide overtime incentives, it is not realistic for a single employee to complete the added task of a full-time worker on leave. You can distribute 1-3 extra hours per employee unless a single person insists on taking the full task.
  • Output distribution: Creative work can be distributed accordingly depending on the number of processes that need to be done. For example, if someone who creates videos for your company is on leave, you can distribute the work by the process, such as shooting, editing, captioning, etc.
  • As-needed distribution: Some employees will be more than willing to take extra work in exchange for an incentive. In this case, you’ll have a better chance of having quality work as the employee is motivated to do the task. You can distribute on an as-needed basis as well.

Plan the transition

If an employee asks in advance for rehab or medical leave, you can make the temporary change smoother for other workers by planning the transition. Strategies such as informing them in advance about what’s to happen, creating a task checklist, and adjusting schedules can help employees set expectations on the temporary change.

Of course, it is important to keep your on-leave employee’s privacy while disclosing such information to others. Be as discrete as possible depending on your on-leave worker’s consent.

Making the Burden Light: A Leader’s Job

As a leader, the success of your company lies in part in your employee’s overall well-being. Making sure that nothing falls on the cracks in terms of their physical and mental health helps all of you overcome the ever-changing tides of the workplace.

This guest post is written by Patrick Bailey and may not be copied or republished without PeopleGuru's express written permission. Patrick is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.


  • org - “Can Your Employees Really Speak Freely?”.
  • com - “The 5 Questions You Need To Ask Your Employees Every Week”.
  • gov - “Overtime Pay”.

Topics: HR, Culture

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