Managing your network – Don’t burn any bridges. Your network includes the people who know you, know the value you bring and trust you. This is one of your most valuable assets. Trust is the platform to have productive conversations around leave and potential changes to your work schedule upon return. Be sure to consider the business needs in your suggestions and proposals and keep the focus on the impact and outcomes you can deliver rather than the time you spend at your desk or in the office.
Combatting lack of confidence - Taking leave can negatively impact your confidence. One approach to minimising any decrease in confidence is to stop and reflect what you’ve GAINED from the leave. What perspective perhaps do you have now that you didn’t have before, and how is that a benefit to the business? You may also have learned things about yourself that you hadn’t realised before, making you a more rounded person with a higher level of emotional intelligence (and we certainly need more of that in the workplace!).
Designing your leave & return in a way that meets YOUR needs – We are all individuals. Each of us has our own unique needs, interests and talents. Design your leave and return in a way that supports you being at your best, at home and at work. Getting the home/life integration right for you means that the time you spend at home will then support your performance at work and vice versa. Think about the IMPACT you want to make, in your personal life and in your professional life. Time is a limited resource. Focus on the things that really matter to you. One size definitely doesn’t fit all!
Looking ahead, what changes might we see when it comes to leave & returning to work? A number of mega trends are occurring simultaneously (technology advancement, millennial demands for more flexible working/leave and demand for talent) which may accelerate the change in the way society views leave. The assumption that someone who takes leave is not committed, not a hard worker, or not interested in career progression is increasing looking out of date. The other mega trend is of course that we are living longer, and thus likely to be working longer. It’s in this context that we need to consider the topic of leave from both the perspective of the employee as well as the employer.