As many as 10% of people in the workplace are grieving the death of someone at any one time, according to the Grief in the workplace, bereavement care report by Breffni McGuinness, published in 2009. Are employers aware of who is affected by grief in their organisation?
Bereavement affects everyone sooner or later, and employers are realising they can do more to support their employees during this sad time. As a charity, AtaLoss.org works alongside hundreds of bereavement services to offer those who are grieving signposts to appropriate and local support.
The charity is now working with organisations to host workshops and employee webinars where managers and bereaved employees can learn more about grief. Bereavement impacts widely on the emotional, physical, spiritual and psychological wellbeing of a person, and in turn their capacity to work, as well as their mental health.
Mental health is an increasingly important topic for organisations, and offering appropriate bereavement support from a position of understanding may prove to be an effective preventative measure. The 2014 report Life after death: six steps to improve support in bereavement, published by the National Council for Palliative Care, shows that bereaved people in Britain feel failed by a lack of support in the workplace. 56% say they would consider leaving their jobs if their employer did not provide proper support if someone close to them died.
Charities such as AtaLoss.org can help HR representatives understand the journey of grief and how employees may react. When organisations understand the effects of grief they can re-evaluate what is on offer and how best to manage the bridge of returning to work. Simply knowing what to say and what not to say can make a real difference to the employee’s view of their employer, as well as their confidence in returning to work.
For example, Child Bereavement UK and AtaLoss.org has worked closely with travel organisation Thomas Cook‘s employee relationship team to talk through situations specific to the organisation. Debbie Harrison, employee relations lead at Thomas Cook, says the workshop has given them the tools to approach those suffering loss more confidently and that the webinar was hugely helpful for their employees.
Understanding and supporting grief in the workplace is important and becoming increasingly popular.
Niki Pembroke is business relationship manager volunteer at AtaLoss.org