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Managing and supporting grieving employees

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HC Online | 17 Oct 2013, 12:05 AM Agree 0
Losing a close friend or family member, a child or spouse, is devastating for all of us. But when it happens to a co-worker or employer, it can be difficult to know how to support them. While there are policies in place for grievance leave, what do you do when the affect is felt for weeks or months?
  • Anne Sayles | 17 Oct 2013, 03:16 PM Agree 0
    I don't think you can even put a time limit (within reason) on the amount of leave required for a bereavement - it varies from person to person and what their individual requirements are. I also believe that Management support is an absolute must for any employee going through this situation. It may not be asking the employee all the time about how they are feeling, but making sure that they do know if they need to talk, shed a few tears, or just need to go for a walk, that you will be there to support them. Grief is such a personal thing and so many of us handle it in different ways, there is no "One size fits all" solution.
  • Diane Mason | 17 Oct 2013, 03:31 PM Agree 0
    How lovely to hear the viewpoint from each persepctive. As the People & Services Manager, I have also had to lead our teams through grief in losing two of our employees within 1 years and supporting others in their personal loss. However it just doesn't compare with having to face the sudden and tragic loss of my own eldest son last year. My immediate team, Management and the Directors were so very understanding and 'picked up the slack' while I was on leave for 3 weeks. I truly felt that it had a great deal to do with the example I had already set for them in how to deal kindly with others, that helped them to respond to my loss. As the only female manager I was conscious that the response from my male counterparts would be less emotive, but they were all very understanding - each in their own way. Critically I think the question all good HR professionals and manage shoud simply ask is "what can I do to help you get through this time". Offering a personal helping hand is really demonstating more than just 'company consideration or protocol and means the most to the person who is coming to terms with such loss. I'm so very grateful that I was supported to be able to continue contributing in my role.
  • Michael Ginsberg | 18 Oct 2013, 01:14 AM Agree 0
    I lost my parents twelve days apart last year (Dad 8/22/12, Mom 9/3/12). At the time I was working from home doing contract recruiting for a major consulting firm. I never expected to receive the caring and support from people that I had never met as my family went through this devastating experience. I was recruited by my current employer in between my parents' passings. They too were incredibly accomodating to my situation, putting the job on hold until I was able to interview with them and being very understanding about my family obligations as we were in the process of relocating to Nashville. While I think I've always been an understanding and caring person, I've found myself being even more empathetic to coworkers and friends experiencing a loss. From my own situation, I've learned that healing and grief are an ongoing process and that rough days and tough minutes can come unexpectedly and that we need to be as understanding as possible when our coworkers go through such tough experiences.
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