Article: Bereavement support: How to care for grieving employees

Wellbeing

Bereavement support: How to care for grieving employees

These steps are designed to help HR practitioners offer meaningful support to colleagues even and especially in moments of sadness and pain.
Bereavement support: How to care for grieving employees

Dealing with loss can be extremely hard for many. This was seen acutely at the height of the COVID pandemic with restrictions hindering people from mourning properly. 

The prolonged health crisis has prevented the usual ways of dealing with grief, such as being physically present to console the aggrieved or to seek consolation for one’s self.

The importance of tackling grief at work

Psychologist Jaydene Tucker says that the process of bereavement gives employees and their families a chance to come to terms with reality and loss. Thus, supporting employees who are mourning requires great care and sensitivity to the needs of others on the part of HR practitioners. 

Read more: Should employers show their softer side on LinkedIn?

Moreover, discussions around grief and the bereavement process are practically unheard of in most professional settings, according to author and expert on grief David Kessler.

“Grief is not anything we’ve ever tackled well in the workplace. Businesses don’t usually recognise it, but it actually has a huge financial impact,” Kessler told Fortune. “Employee productivity is so impacted by loss and loss is everywhere right now.”

How can HR professionals help? 

How to support grieving employees

Reach out.

People who are going through the process of grieving usually feel alone. As a manager, it’s important to reach out and acknowledge your employee’s grief. Ask the person how you can help them get through, and if there’s anything they need. Let them know you’re there so that they won’t feel alone.

Give paid time off.

Grieving takes time – and that’s okay. The experience can also be different for each person. Allow employees the time to rest without them having to worry about the cost of being away.

Read more: The new wave of occupational health

Be empathetic and listen.

Employees who are dealing with loss will have a hard time socialising. This can lead to them isolating themselves even more. Keep checking up on them and, when they are ready to speak, listen intently to what they have to say. Grieving employees may need a kind heart who will listen as they process the pain.

Prepare your office for employee grief.

Having people at your workplace talk about grief with care and compassion can demystify the experience and help others recover. Schedule small group trainings on how to support a colleague going through it, and provide an avenue for those who want to reach out through one-to-one conversations.

These steps on the bereavement process are designed to help HR practitioners offer meaningful support to colleagues even and especially in moments of sadness and pain.

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Topics: Wellbeing, Life @ Work

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