Why support bereaved colleagues?
Around 7 in 10 (72%) UK adults have been bereaved at least once in the last five years (Sue Ryder charity for palliative, neurological and bereavement support).
Yet only 9% said they had received support at work. And research from the CIPD found that just over half (54%) of employees said that they were aware of their employer having a policy or support in place for employees experiencing bereavement while many were not.
More recently this year, since our worlds have been turned upside-down with Covid19, the need for the workplace to better manage bereaved colleagues has never been more apparent.
In July 2020, the CIPD published new recommendations and guidelines to support HR and line managers.
Bereavement policies and support should be holistic, long term and take into account individual circumstances.
Employers should work to be knowledgeable about the law and bereavement, including parental bereavement leave and pay and emergency time off for family and dependants.
Employers should address health and safety obligations in relation to bereavement and avoid discrimination and address the risk of bullying.
An open culture of support helps people feel more comfortable raising any issues and asking for support. Communicate your approach and embed this culture of support.
Develop a bereavement policy, covering aspects like reporting a bereavement, any leave and pay and returning to work.
Educate and support people managers to show empathy and compassion.
Provide training and support so they understand the organisation’s bereavement policy and support structure.
Flexibility is key: build flexible responses and be open to ongoing flexible working provisions.
Provide information on workplace support and signpost employees to external sources of information and support
Many organisations are keen to demonstrate their commitment to employee wellbeing and have trained Mental Health First Aiders in the workplace. In addition, Mental Health Awareness courses are becoming a mandatory part of management training to help managers spot the early signs of poor mental health and equip them with the basic skills to support employees accordingly.
For those who believe that bereavement is just a blip in someone’s life and that the person should be ‘back to normal’ after a few days of compassionate leave, sadly, they are misguided! Grief affects us profoundly – physically, mentally and emotionally, sometimes for years later. All employers who care about their staff and employee wellbeing need to recognise that supporting someone through bereavement should sit alongside that of the broader aspects of mental health.
Impact for employers
Bereavement is often a life-changing experience which we will all go through at some point in our lives. Staying silent about it or undermining the impact of it can be hugely detrimental to someone who is grieving.
Whilst it can be challenging to know how to sensitively manage bereavement in the workplace, this is not a valid reason to avoid discussing it. If an employer has a greater understanding of grief, this can help to dispel some of the myths associated
with it. Ultimately, this puts the employer in a much stronger position of being more capable of supporting an employee during a very difficult time of their life.
The benefits of a compassionate and well-managed approach may include the following:
Demonstrates the organisation’s values to its employees and builds commitment and loyalty from staff
Better equipped to manage unexpected time off work; clear guidance through a bereavement policy
Supports an individual’s return to work
Acknowledges the employee’s loss and is more equipped to make suitable adjustments ie. flexible working arrangements, change in job role functions
Helps to reduce sick leave, absenteeism and unnecessary staff turnover
Bereavement Training for Managers, HR and Mental Health First Aiders/Wellbeing Champions
To fit in with today’s lifestyle where managers may be homeworking or spending less time in the office, webinars and/or an online course is the most practical way of gaining essential knowledge to support bereaved employees in a safe and
** WEBINAR SERIES & AN ONLINE COURSE **
BEREAVEMENT IN THE WORKPLACE
to be launched in 2021
The course can help to:
Understand the grieving process and gain an awareness of current models that are widely recognised in contemporary grief theory
Identify ways to support employees through a bereavement
Learn to communicate effectively and compassionately with bereaved staff and colleagues within their team
Understand the impact of bereavement and grief in the workplace and the benefits of incorporating a workplace bereavement policy into their organisation
Gain an awareness of support organisations, and how and when to refer individuals for further support
Become aware of the impact of working with bereaved people, the boundaries of their roles and managing the wellbeing of themselves and others
A personalised, consultancy service can also be offered as a 2hr minimum session to provide bespoke training and advice to help you support bereavement in the workplace.
Please do get in contact to discuss your organisation’s specific needs.