What to do if one of your employees is grieving

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Being a business owner or manager often means showing compassion to your employees, but this is especially the case when a staff member is dealing with the loss of someone close to them.

In a blog post published on LinkedIn, executive coach Janet Britcher says dealing with grieving employees is a matter of treading carefully but still being present for the person dealing with a recent loss.

“Being sensitive to employees at a time of loss is not only the humane, mature, mindful thing to do, but it builds tremendous loyalty,” Britcher writes.

“Employees who feel treated with care will have another reason to love their employer. Many managers just don’t know what to do, even though they are well meaning. Every death triggers one’s own losses and awareness of mortality.”

Read more: Many organisations are not yet up to processing grief

Britcher says that while business owners and managers aren’t expected to be qualified grief counsellors or an employee’s best friend during a time of crisis, small acts of kindness go a long way.

She uses the example of a teacher receiving a letter of condolence signed by every student in her class.

“Employees who are grieving a death need acknowledgement of the event, and connection, to avoid feeling isolated,” Britcher says.

“Treating employees carefully after they have had a death in their family is the right thing to do, and builds loyalty.”

Some things business owners or managers can do to convey their care and concern for a grieving employee include bringing them coffee, inviting them out to lunch to see how they are going and stopping by their office for a few minutes to chat.

“Be aware of your own discomfort with death or past losses, and accept it,” Britcher says.

“Then be present for the person who has had the loss.”

 

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Broede Carmody is a former senior reporter at SmartCompany. Previously, he was a co-editor of RMIT University's student magazine Catalyst.

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