It can be difficult for an employee to return to work while they’re still grieving the death of a loved one. Your organization’s supervisors and managers have an important role to play in the early steps of their healing process. Every person expresses grief in different ways, and it’s important to prepare your leaders to offer the support your employees need.
Here are some ways you can provide compassionate support to someone on your staff who is grieving after a loss:
- Reach out to the employee as soon as possible after learning about their loss. Understand that there’s no right or wrong way to grieve and show empathy regardless of how emotional they are.
- Know your organization’s bereavement leave policies and share that information with your employee.
- Ask them if it’s OK to share information about their loss with others in the company. Find out what details they want their co-workers to know, including details about funeral services.
- If you get the employee’s permission, share information about services with the rest your staff as quickly as possible so they can make plans to attend.
When your employee returns to work, they may still need your support. You should give them space, but if you say nothing it may make your employee feel ignored and isolated. Respect their privacy but let them know you’re available to talk. Tell them that it’s OK to retreat to a quiet space if they need some time alone.
A grieving employee may struggle to focus on their work once they return. They may be distracted, forgetful, or late with assignments. Make sure you regularly check in with them and offer ongoing support. You should also look for signs of substance withdrawal or substance use. If you notice uncharacteristic and troubling behavior, your employee may need professional help.
Workpartners provides counseling sessions that can help those dealing with grief and loss. Our employee assistance program, LifeSolutions EAP, can provide referrals to counselors. Our website also features Griefwords, a comprehensive library of articles and book excerpts about grief for bereaved families and caregivers. LifeSolutions EAP also offers access to an online course, Overcoming the Loss of a Loved One, as well as an array of webinars:
- Leading through Loss
- What can I say?
- Supporting Grieving Children
- Finding Our Way through Grief and Loss
For more information on how Workpartners can help your organization support employees dealing with grief and loss, contact us today.