Could HR solve...? Mary Poppins Returns

21 Feb 2019 By Eleanor Whitehouse

A nanny goes back to work for the same employer after a considerable time away

The problem

Following the death of Michael Banks’ wife Kate, Mary Poppins – Michael and his sister Jane’s childhood nanny – returns to the family’s service after 25 years to help care for Michael’s three children, Annabel, John and Georgie. But just how simple is it to go back to a former employer after such an extended period of absence?

The solution

Whatever the length of time or the reason for absence, employees returning to an organisation after time off will be plagued by a range of worries, says Jessica Chivers, CEO of The Talent Keeper Specialists.

These might include concerns about their purpose at the company, and whether they feel they’re still needed – especially if someone else has been covering their role while they’ve been off. “There’s also a need for the employee to reconnect with their colleagues and get up to speed with what’s changed in their absence,” she says. “In 25 years, this is likely to be considerable.”

The role of the returner’s line manager is also vital in making sure their reintegration runs smoothly. Chivers points out that a phased return may be beneficial, so Mary Poppins could work reduced hours or days for the Banks family at first before increasing them later. 

“The manager should also not assume that because the employee has worked there previously, they won’t have questions,” says Chivers. “Although Banks and his children live in the same house as before, a lot is likely to be different. They shouldn’t assume she can simply pick up where she left off – even if she is practically perfect.”

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