The sudden passing of a co-worker can come as a shock to employees. Helping your team deal with grief can be the most difficult part of being an employer, as it requires a high degree of sensitivity and consideration. The following tips can help make the grieving process go much smoother for everyone involved.
Communication is Key
As a leader, your employees should be able to come to you and discuss their feelings on the recent loss. It's also beneficial to have an employee assistance counselor on hand to help employees process their feelings. It's a good opportunity to host a group meeting with those who are able to attend. Employees should be able to take a break from their work schedule to discuss their feelings.
Know When to Intervene
Some employees handle grief better by taking some space for themselves. While some are able to process a death in the office in a matter of hours, others may need to take a few days or even longer to clear their heads. The grieving process will likely come with some loss of productivity in the first few days, which is to be expected.
Others, especially those who were particularly close with their deceased co-worker, may be in need of some extra support to get through the grieving process. Identifying and reaching out to these individuals with additional services, including additional grief counseling, can help them cope and heal from the loss.
Replace with Care and Consideration
It'll take some time for your employees to recover from the loss of a fellow colleague. Fielding a replacement in the immediate aftermath may not sit well with grieving employees, so expect the search for a new employee to move slower than usual. It may take a few weeks for your team to become comfortable with the idea of a replacement for a deceased co-worker.
When the time is right, have human resources and management engage with employees on the topic of a new successor to the vacated position. Have additional grief counseling available for those in need, as talk of a replacement can cause grief to resurface in some. Being supportive is an absolute must, whether it involves allowing for use of bereavement leave or making considerations for how the grieving process may affect workflow.
It's also important to let the incoming employee know what happened to their predecessor and what to expect of their current work environment. This will help the new employee transition into their new position while allowing others to better acclimate to their new colleague.
Contact local employee assistance counseling services for more help.
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