4 Ways You Can Support a Grieving Employee

Grieving employees can be helped at work.
Grieving employees can be helped at work.

Almost all of us have known a fellow employee who has had to grieve. I have been one of those grieving employees twice, with the loss of both my mother and father. It helps have people around you who understand and support you during that time. Here is a post from SocialMonsters.org that addresses the issue of 4 ways to support a grieving employee.
As much as we don’t want to admit it, being human still is an incurable, terminal disease. No matter what kind of vitamins we take, what happy thoughts we have or how many miles we power through on the treadmill, medical science still gives all of us a 100 percent chance of death.
On that cheery note, death is also an occasion that unveils people’s true character. It can put life in perspective and cause people to treasure their loved ones even more. As an employer or manager, death is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your compassion and let grieving employees know the company is there for them. This, however, needs to be done while maintaining everyday operations. Here’s how to get started:

Share the Company’s Bereavement Policy

A bereavement policy details the amount of paid time off that is available for grieving employees and the accepted circumstances. As this is likely one of the documents employees skim over during orientation, give the grieving employee a friendly reminder of what services are available to him or her. Avoid framing it like, “Here are our rules that you must follow to the letter.” Your aim when reviewing the company bereavement policy is to be helpful, because it’s likely the employee can’t accurately recall what the policy is.

Be Flexible

Even if a policy is in place, it can certainly be adjusted as needed. If an employee needs time beyond what’s available, discuss options such as using vacation time, unpaid leave or a shared vacation program. Policies often state that bereavement time is commonly reserved for the death of an immediate family member, but the Society for Human Resources Management suggests employers make exceptions for a special friend or an important member of a spouse’s family.

Let Them Know Everyone Cares

Have everyone sign a card and consider sending sympathy flowers from the whole group. Make sure that whatever you do for one employee, you do for everybody under similar circumstances. You can make the opportunity to attend services available to co-workers who may have known the deceased or want to support their co-worker. Depending on your personnel and payroll needs, you can give them a few hours of time off on this occasion or allow them to work a different schedule on that day.


Since the circumstances of every death are different and every employee grieves differently, he or she may need different degrees of assistance. Compassionatefriends.org, an organization that offers grieving resources after a child dies, notes the importance of clear, compassionate communication during this time. Reassure the employee that his/her duties and responsibilities will be taken care of and if possible, offer to help with travel or related expenses.

2 thoughts on “4 Ways You Can Support a Grieving Employee”

  1. Michael,
    Interesting post.
    Would like to add one more input – now a days, employees expect a quick and timely resolution to their issues and firms, particularly for small business it is extremely painful to go for a replacement because of grievances.
    An online smart desk with ticket system can help firms to track and resolve employee issues in a streamlined manner.

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