That word can bring up so many emotions and meanings for people.

Sadly some of my good friends have suffered losses lately; as a result it reminded me that I have dealt with many bereavement scenarios in my professional life, and no matter how difficult it is to discuss, it does get easier over time, and with the right support in place. 

The ongoing impact of the pandemic, means, that Employees will have lost family members, partners, friends and co-workers, most likely in unexpected and shocking circumstances, and have been unable to say goodbye properly to loved ones, either in hospital or at funerals. 

This is likely to have a lasting psychological impact on Employees and emotional support such as counselling and therapy put in place by Employers will help them come to terms with what they have experienced.

A compassionate and supportive approach demonstrates that the Business values its Employees, helps build commitment and is likely to reduce sickness absence and help retain Employees.

So if you are an Employer ensure you take steps to support your Employees –

  • Have a Bereavement Policy in place, either separately or in a handbook.
  • Acknowledge the bereavement that the Employee has experienced. They may or may not want to talk about the situation in detail but acknowledging that it has happened is important.
  • It can be a good idea for the Employer to ask their Employee what, if anything, they would like their work Colleagues to know about the bereavement.
  • Train your Line Managers to have open and sensitive conversations and to explore what extra support would be helpful to affected Employees. 
  • It might be helpful to support bereaved Employees through a phased return to work and flexible working.
  • Many Businesses will have Counselling, Occupational Health and Employee Assistance Programmes available, and they should highlight these to those experiencing bereavement. They should also signpost to relevant Organisations and Charities that can support bereaved Employees; this will be particularly important for smaller Businesses with limited  resources.

Below are some further sources of support –