The unpredictable occasion of death will affect every workplace at some point, and no organization, regardless of size, is exempt from its impact. Employees spend the majority of their awake time with coworkers developing personal and professional relationships, and when a death occurs the sympathetic care and concern take on a personal nature with an emotional impact.
Although grief is a universal human experience, it is a challenging situation to cope with and oftentimes left to be resolved on its own. Grief can have significant consequences to an organization in areas of productivity, revenue, absenteeism, safety, turnover, and morale. It is difficult to quantify, but it is estimated that grief accounts for more than $75 billion in loss annually to American revenue, with over $37 billion attributed to death-related grief.
Many organizations do not have the information, training, and best practices to effectively respond when a death affects their workplace.
•Are you comfortable dealing with this sensitive and consuming distraction?
•Do you know how to respond to the resulting emotional, physical and productivity effects when grief visits your workplace?
•Are you familiar with the best and worst things to say to someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one?
•Does your workplace culture compassionately support the grieving employee and affected colleagues?
•Is your organization competent in recognizing, responding to, and reducing the negative impact grief can have in the workplace?
The physical, emotional, cognitive, social, and spiritual impacts of one’s grief experience will be unique to each individual; therefore, there is no linear, cookie-cutter, or one-size-fits-all approach to helping one navigate this wilderness of grief. Nor is it expected that a death allow the organization to ignore, cease, or delay business activities, sales, services, or customer expectations. The goal is to find the balance and flow between being compassionately supportive and minimizing the workplace disruption when a death has occurred. How you respond to an employee’s loss will have long-term implications among your workforce.
You do not have to be an expert on grief to make a positive difference in your organization. The Workplace Grief Workshop coaches executive, management, and human resources staff to better understand grief, the grieving process, negative effects of grief, best practices, and effective communication strategies to create a compassionate, supportive, professional, and productive grief-friendly work environment.
Why the Need to Address Grief in the Workplace . . .
•Employee grief is usually unsupported and misunderstood. Our understanding of the topic is limited. Knowing something about grief itself and the grieving process can be helpful in implementing practical and reasonable ways to support workplace grief.
•Grief not only affects the grieving employee but has a far-reaching impact on the organization. Workplaces provide a sense of community as most waking hours are spent with coworkers, oftentimes being referred to as extended family.
•Limited bereavement leave is afforded to employees. The more common three to five days afforded for the loss of an immediate family member isn’t sufficient to counter the effects of loss that occur weeks, or even months, following the loss. Relying on the “you should be over it” myth, it is expected that the employee return to work as a fully functioning staff member.
•Professional counseling, therapy, and mental health services such as those offered by an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) are usually provided for the grieving individual and offered during non-working hours. The impact of the grief-related emotions transcends beyond the grieving employee.
•Loss of grief-related business revenue has a tremendous effect on a company’s production, sales, or services. According to a 2002 Wall Street Journal article, the hidden annual cost of grief in the workplace related to grief after a loved one’s death is estimated at $37.4 billion. It is obvious that this number has increased significantly since that time.
•A compassionate workplace culture can maintain an engaged workforce and boost employee morale, loyalty, productivity, and employee retention.