How to Support a Grieving Employee

| 3 min read

Dealing with loss is extremely difficult, especially when it involves a loved one. Every individual has their own way of grieving, and the HR department must deal with it in the right manner. If treated with compassion, grieving employees could possibly bounce back with vigor. Conversely, being unsympathetic could lead to bitter feelings and resentment.

Here are just a few tips to help any HR department deal with a grieving employee:

1. Show them that you’re there for them

Let grieving employees know that you are there for them if they need anything. A common practice is sending flowers or other gifts as a gesture. After the employee comes back to work, allow them to talk anything out and listen to them patiently. The best thing you can possibly do is to be a listener and acknowledge their loss.

2. Have a proper policy in place

During rough times, having a systematic HR policy that deals with grieving employees is certainly helpful. This policy should include the number of days an employee can be absent from work. Standard emergency leave is usually from three days to one week, but companies should be flexible with this. After all, mourning and acceptance takes time, and the employee might need to tie up many personal and financial loose ends. Giving grieving employees the freedom to take more time for themselves can help them cope better with their loss and prepare for the workplace.

3. Train line managers

With seven in 10 professionals feeling comfortable to voice their opinions to their manager, as per the ‘Employee Engagement in the MENA’ poll, line managers are an important facet of an employee’s life at the office. They must thus be trained on how to handle these employees and show them support. With a lot on their mind, grieving employees tend to suffer a downfall in their productivity. The best way to deal with this is by considering the employee’s limits during those hard times and delegating work to other team members until things go back to normal.

4. Garner support from coworkers

Often, the HR department keeps the grieving employee’s situation confidential. As a result, when the employee comes back to work, no one acknowledges their loss. This can make them feel isolated. To avoid this from happening, you could get permission from the employee to tell their colleagues about their loss. More often than not, coworkers are willing to show unwavering support and you could organize ways for them to do this. For example, you could implement a leave donating scheme wherein employees can donate their unused annual leave so that the grieving employee can take more time off. You could also arrange a volunteer group who would take food to the employee’s house on a rotational basis. There are so many ways to show employees that the organization truly cares.

5. Educate

It’s essential to give your employees basic education and training on grief. This includes the various stages of grief, how to deal with the loss of a loved one, how to handle legal and financial matters, and how to support a colleague who is mourning. You could even bring in a counselor who is well-versed with these topics.



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