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Bereavement in the workplace

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

Managing workplace bereavement is challenging. Maybe that’s why it’s rarely mentioned. But most people experience loss during their working lives and with Hospice UK reporting that fewer than 1 in 5 managers feel “very confident” supporting employees with bereavement, it needs mentioning!

Difficulties often lie with communication, or rather the lack of/knowing how to. It’s not easy to talk about death – these conversations can cause discomfort. Bereavement related communications need handling effectively and compassionately.

There’s a number of ways to achieve this; for instance, ensure grieving employees are not overwhelmed with information. Limit initial conversations to condolences and ascertaining key information, such as:

  • Whether and to what extent the employee (or a deceased employee’s family) is content with information being shared; this is particularly important where it relates to the death of a work colleague.
  • Identifying what time-off is needed – this might also extend to allowing other staff members time-off to attend a colleague’s funeral.
  • What are appropriate “keeping in touch” arrangements such as how and when; “when” can be particularly important as there will inevitably be key times to avoid – especially if a bereaved staff member is also a primary carer.
  • Signposting any internal/external support.

It’s also vital to remember grief affects us all differently; there’s no set grieving period. Nor are there any other set grieving patterns. Ultimately, when affected with bereavement in the workplace managers should be prepared to adapt and accept a bereaved’s guidance so they can then lead the way.

If you require further guidance on this matter, please contact our employment team.