How to Manage a Prolonged Work Absence

by / ⠀Startup Advice / May 11, 2022
Prolonged Work Absence

If you’re out of work due to an injury or medical condition, you may feel stressed. You’ll be back to work eventually, but in the meantime, your team is probably scrambling. How can you use your prolonged work absence well and still make sure your company can operate smoothly, while improving your career path and the growth trajectory of your business?

Financial Strategies for Managing a Prolonged Work Absence

Let’s start with some personal financial strategies. You may or may not have a steady stream of income during this time, and if you’re frequently attending medical appointments, you may have mounting costs to deal with as well.

Budget carefully.

Take this time to budget your spending very carefully. Make sure you understand how much money you have going in, what your financial priorities are, and how much you have in savings.

Rely on secondary income sources.

If you don’t currently have a stream of income from your business, or if that income has been temporarily limited, consider picking up some secondary income sources. If you have extra savings or investments, now may be the time to utilize them. Otherwise, it may be a good idea to pick up a side gig or two.

Consider financial assistance.

If you’re dealing with medical bills, prescription costs, and other expenses related to your injury or condition, you may need even more financial assistance. Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for pre-settlement funding. You may also be able to negotiate with hospitals and healthcare providers to reduce or delay your bills.

Delegation and Coordination Strategies for Managing a Prolonged Work Absence

Your most important responsibility as a leader will be delegating your tasks and making sure the team remains active and engaged in their work. You’re going to be absent, so all you can do is rely heavily on the team you’ve already built.

Establish responsible parties.

Designate responsible parties for each of your core responsibilities. For example, you can establish a point person for directing sales, and another one for coordinating marketing campaigns. These people will serve as de facto leaders in your stead.

Stay in the loop.

You won’t be able to manage day-to-day operations, nor will you be involved in every decision. But you should stay in the loop. Encourage your employees to send you daily or weekly update emails, giving you a high level analysis of what’s going on.

Trust, but verify

Originating from a Russian proverb, the phrase “trust but verify” encourages you to trust in the capabilities and will of your teammates, but still verify that the work is getting done. Use objective metrics to verify that your employees are doing what they’re supposed to do.

Stress Relief Strategies for Managing a Prolonged Work Absence

This may be a time of significant stress for you. If you want to stay sane and healthy, you’ll need to practice some active stress relief strategies.

Stay in the present. 

Try not to think too much about the past or the future. Instead, live in the present moment. Mindfulness meditation is an excellent exercise that can help you accomplish this, especially if you practice it regularly.

Talk openly to friends and family members. 

If you’re feeling exceptionally stressed, talk about your feelings and your concerns with friends and family members. They’ll be happy to support you, and you’ll feel better explaining what’s on your mind.

Distract yourself. 

Stay busy. Stepping away from work means you’ll have a lot of extra free time, and probably a lot of painful boredom. Keep yourself engaged with reading, exercise, and any other hobbies or distractions that will occupy your mind.

Preparing for Your Next Absence

When you do return to work, consider putting in the prep work for your next conceivable absence.

Hire the best people.

If you have an excellent team of talented and motivated people, you can step away from the business without much concern. You may already have some rock stars on your team, but there’s always room for more. Emphasize recruiting and training so you can build the best possible team.

Cross train and document.

Consider cross training your employees. Essentially, this means teaching all employees new responsibilities and skills, so they can take over another person’s role if necessary, even if it’s only on a temporary basis.

Encourage autonomy.

Foster an entrepreneurial mindset in your employees. If your employees feel autonomous and independent, they’re going to thrive in your business environment even if there isn’t a leader currently in place.

No entrepreneur or team leader wants to be out of work for too long, but you may not have a choice in the matter. If you find yourself taking an unexpected leave of absence due to factors beyond your control, these strategies can keep you remain mentally and financially stable while ensuring the ongoing operation and continued success of your business.

Image Credit: Scott Webb; Pexels; Thank you!

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