The IGLOo: Sickness absence and sustainable return to work pilot study

Returning people back to work after sickness absence and enabling them to stay at work is challenging, especially where the person is experiencing mental ill health – either as a primary reason for absence or as a co-presenting condition.

Leading workplace health experts from Affinity Health at Work, Loughborough and Sheffield Universities, and Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust have come together to run a pilot study which offers a free e-learning resource for managing long-term sick leave and return to work.

The e-learning resource is based on the IGLOo framework for return to work. The early research on the IGLOo framework was awarded the VRA Innovation, Research and Education Award in 2020. The IGLOo framework for return to work promotes a shared responsibility between: the Individual employee, the Group, the Line manager, Organisation, and Outside resources. It promotes transparency and synergism in the return-to-work process by, for example:

  • encouraging early communication and support for the employee
  • making it easier for line managers to provide support
  • empowering the employee to look after their mental health and well-being whilst on sick leave and after returning to work.

The new pilot study will test the e-learning resource, including tailored toolkits for line managers and employees on sick leave, and short online webinars for senior leaders and those responsible for workplace well-being in their organisations. The manager and employee toolkits have been found to benefit employers in a recent pilot study run by members of the research team in the Midlands region.

The new trial will take place between July 2022 and December 2024. Participating organisations will be randomly assigned to the control group or intervention group to allow comparisons between the IGLOo e-learning resource and existing processes. All participating organisations, including those in the control group, will be provided with a report outlining the study findings and access to hard copies of the resources and toolkits at the end of the study to freely use within their organisation. Control organisations will also receive a report mapping current practice against national guidelines on absence management and return to work.

If you work with a large organisation (600+ employees) based in the Yorkshire or Humber region that would benefit from piloting the toolkits for free, please contact us!

Please contact for more information about the study or to arrange an onboarding meeting.