How to support employees facing bereavement

It’s something that people never want to have to deal with – the death of a loved one can hit people in different ways. Some might be able to function as normal, dealing with their grief in private, others may have a harder time accepting losing someone they’re close to. As an employer, how can you make sure you’re supporting these people in the best way possible for them?

The line manager and perhaps members of some HR departments are usually the first port of call when an employee has suffered bereavement. Knowing your staff is the first step – if a manager generally has a good relationship with their team members, it can be easier to recognise when to step in and help, or when it’s best to step back and give them some space.

Not all managers will be comfortable in personally consoling or comforting an employee, but if a company has support networks in place, referring a grieving individual to these additional services might be the right solution. Sometimes, just some flexibility is exactly what the person needs – being allowed to leave early, taking a few days off, or even working from home for a period of time.

Bereavement can be considered a bit of a taboo in the workplace, but with 1 out of 10 people suffering a bereavement at any one time, it’s important that support for those grieving is high on a company’s agenda.

We developed an online module for employers with St. Catherine’s Hospice which aims to assist line managers in understanding how bereavement might affect their staff and how to go about supporting them.

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