Dealing with bereavement is something that we never want to face, but unfortunately it can and does occur.

The passing of an employee can hit everyone hard, but especially in workplaces where you are all working in a close knit-environment and socialise outside of work.

Here are some key things to think about:

Consider the family of the deceased

You need to express your condolences to the family, be sensitive to their grief and respect their wishes for the funeral.

Communicate the death

It’s vital to announce the loss to colleagues and be respectful of what the family wants to be shared.

Rather than let speculation run rife, inform your employees of the passing in a personal, calm and sensitive way. There is no ‘one approach fits all’ – it will depend on your workplace’s culture.

You will also need to think about how to approach notifying key customers or individuals the employee was in daily contact with.

Be human not corporate

As an employer, it has to be business as usual, but as a human being you will also be going through a lot of emotions. It’s important to be sensitive to how other people react to loss (which may be very different to how you cope) and ensure that you empathise and support your employees as much as possible.

Time to rally around

At times like this, it’s beneficial to create a sense of unity and community at work. You could consider allowing employees time off to attend the funeral, creating a condolences book for the family, conducting a minute’s silence or offering counselling or other forms of support.

Managers need to be trained

Your managers should be properly trained and able to deal with difficult workplace challenges and have sensitive conversations with their employees if they are struggling at work.

Provide interim cover

You will have lots of time in the future to think about long-term cover, but firstly, think about how the work will be covered in the interim.  You may need a temporary cover or to allocate work to existing team.

To explore this area further, read our article on how to handle leave requests in bereavement situations.

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