How to Create a Work Environment That Supports Grief and Loss
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Many people have lost a loved one due to Covid-19 in the last two years. Workers, communities, businesses, organizations and institutions are grappling with severe labor losses and will never be back to what they were before 2020.
Nevertheless, many employers wish for a certain normality in the workplace. While this may seem like a consciousness-based decision, the pandemic has exposed obvious social issues and gaps that companies can no longer ignore if they want to adopt a more wellness-based business and culture.
The workplace will ultimately never be “normal” again because the global pandemic has left a scar on the lives of those left behind and their mental health. Grief used to be situational; but in the face of the pandemic, many people experienced a tremendous loss – almost everyone mourned, especially the staff. The most important stakeholders are your employees and their well-being is the most valuable asset for any company. They are instrumental in incremental growth and development.
Grief was not always addressed appropriately by the workforce. Employers need to embrace this change, recognize when someone is grieving, and give them comfort in being transparent and vulnerable. The workplace has a duty to look after the well-being of employees and workers.
See also: “Corporate America is Killing Us.” Employees tell heartbreaking stories that reveal a crisis of compassion.
The pandemic normalized grief and loss
Covid-19 has completely changed the world of work, including the way a company’s culture embraces those who mourn. Grief isn’t just a set of emotions experienced after losing someone — it’s a new identity for those left behind to learn and understand. It’s not an easy process, especially in the workforce. Believe it or not, grief fundamentally changes someone and their perspective. They may never be the same again – their values, motivations and interests may change.
The dire consequences of unassisted and untreated grief can have long-lasting psychological, emotional, and even financial repercussions in the workplace. The corporate culture of death, loss, and grief can make someone stay or leave. The workplace must be proactive in paying attention to those around it who may be experiencing feelings of grief and loss. Many challenges can become intractable when there is a lack of practices, policies or a systemic culture to best support grieving employees.
Encourage emotional space
Grief can be challenging and tedious. When someone loses someone close to them, it can make them feel overwhelmed. They may worry about how they will manage their role and productivity. You may experience added stress, burnout, and brain fog. Managers should give employees the space to share their feelings and voice concerns about progress.
Ask your employee how they would like to be supported. Learning how to show up for employees is imperative, no matter how awkward it may be.
See also: What grief taught me about running a business
Create environments where productivity and innovation can thrive. Employees should feel celebrated for their contributions to the organization. Staff autonomy is crucial as some are very keen to speak out about their grief while others are not. It’s their choice if they want to talk about it, but knowingly having the support makes all the difference. A prudent manager goes beyond delegating tasks and ensures teams remain productive and organized.
Communication and support are two of the most valued components of the workplace. Employees are more than their position; Therefore, managers must recognize their employees as human beings. These candid conversations allow leaders to identify where additional support is needed to ensure teams are successful and achieve efficient results. Most importantly, this helps managers build rapport and better relationships with their team members, and actively play a role in changing the way the company deals with grief in the workplace.
Some just want work to stay in the workplace, but investing in employee emotional support is tremendously helpful for employee retention, cultural change, and employee branding. Employees shouldn’t be alone and carry the burden of being the only ones initiating the changes they want to see. Real change starts with senior management, and if they lead by example, it will trickle down to every part of the organization.
Think backwards and forwards
It’s not just about creating a safe space for employees; Fostering an environment that supports grief and loss includes implementing company-wide policies to bring about structural change. Do you offer generous bereavement leave for employees to reflect on their bereavement? If so, is this thoroughly communicated to employees?
Do you offer mental health training for employees to attend? If you don’t do this, you should consult with external trainers or create your own training plan. Be sure to highlight the area of grief so your colleagues know how to treat and support those who are grieving.
See also: 4 tips for entrepreneurial survival in the grieving process
Create a comprehensive bereavement plan if you think your business could benefit from a customized training plan. This plan can detail what grief is, how emotionally difficult it can be, why it’s important to recognize it, the emotional toll it can take on someone, how to be empathetic to others, and even suicidal awareness, about mental health and suicide to tackle in the workplace.
Start your meetings with mental health check-ins to see how everyone is doing emotionally. Consider hosting a “Lunch and Learning Event” on what grief is like in the workplace and how it impacts and intersects professional identities.
Sometimes your entire organization experiences grief when an employee dies. Consider implementing a way to honor them. Would you give your employees a paid day to mourn? It would be helpful if you had a communication plan outlining your message to the entire company. Does your company offer specific mental health benefits if your employees require professional care?
Always have the conversation
If you want your organization to embrace a culture of support for grief and loss, the conversation must always happen. The conversation can’t stop when things seem to be getting “normal” again. Grieving is a lifelong journey and support must always be there. After all, grief is just one aspect of creating a workplace of holistic wellness and wellness. You can’t just address grief; You must ensure that all areas of wellbeing work are addressed and supported.