Getting suspended from your job is incredibly stressful. Regardless of whether you were incriminated for something beyond your control or you deliberately did something that got you in trouble later, you don’t really want to lose your job–especially if you don’t have another one waiting in the wings. Coming back from suspension like a boss is a great way to convince your employer of exactly how valuable you are and ensure that your standing with the company remains intact.
1. Communicate professionally and responsibly with your employer throughout your suspension. You should know going in whether or not you will be paid, how long the suspension will be for, and when you can expect to return to work. Keep communications relevant and professional, and resist the urge to contact them too often in case they’ve “forgotten” about you, but do make sure that you know exactly what will be expected of you in order to return.
2. Clearly define expectations with your employer before your return to work. This is particularly important if you were suspended for something that you didn’t realize would get you in trouble–for example, derogatory comments on social media regarding a colleague. If you have been suspended for behavior that is covered in the employee handbook, make sure that you review it so that you know exactly how to behave when returning to work.
3. Avoid even a suggestion of misconduct. If you have been accused of negative behavior against a colleague–harassment, romantic entanglement, or violence–make sure that you are never alone with that colleague. If possible, avoid being alone with that colleague and close friends of theirs, which could cause a misrepresentation of the facts.
4. Know your rights. If you live in a right to work state, your employment can easily be terminated–and in some cases, you may feel as though you’re in danger of termination soon after returning. If this is the case, make sure that you know your rights and what is considered an acceptable reason to terminate your employment.
5. Be apologetic where appropriate. If you were guilty of misconduct, be apologetic and assure your managers that you’re going to do better in the future. Have a real, actionable plan in place to improve your work behavior so that the misconduct doesn’t occur again. You want to present a capable, competent appearance to your managers to assure them that you’re going to come back and give your best to the company.
6. Abide by any restrictions placed on you. These restrictions may be inconvenient for you. They may be equally inconvenient for your colleagues. Dedication to abiding by these restrictions, however, will assure your managers that you’re committed to doing what’s necessary in order to restore your place within the company and go forward with a much better view of what is expected of you. Whether the restriction is that you’re unable to be alone with a specific individual or that you’re unable to enter certain areas unsupervised, be gracious and stick to the restrictions. The better you are about adhering to the rules, the sooner your position will return to normal.
Returning to work after suspension can be awkward, uncomfortable, and difficult to manage. You can’t know what’s been said about you while you were gone or how your colleagues are going to react to your return. You can, however, move forward professionally with confidence: your employer likes your work enough that they were willing to have you come back in spite of an indiscretion, and that says something!
By putting on your most professional attitude and committing to a solid work ethic from the day of your return, you can put your suspension behind you and improve your employer’s vision of you in the future.
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