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Grieving In The Workplace: How To Handle An Employee Death

The shock of coming back from a long weekend to learn that one of your employees has died is devastating. You realize that you have an announcement to make, and you want it to be calm, soothing and caring.

What is the protocol in handling such a grievous situation? How do you support your staff while still maintaining a balanced workplace environment? You will find here helpful information that will better prepare you in the case of such an event. For answers to these questions and more, continue reading.

Reach Out to the Family of the Deceased

Call the family and give your condolences and offer your support. Respectfully ask for information about the funeral services, and be understanding if the funeral is closed to the public. Be sure that the family has the information they need about who to contact in your small business about benefits-related information.

Making the Announcement to Your Staff

Even if some members of your staff have already heard about the employee’s untimely passing, still make an office-wide announcement. You will want to avoid water cooler talk and nip any misinformation about the death in the bud.

This announcement will share only what the deceased employee’s family has given permission to you to say, including details about the funeral arrangements. To lighten the mood, you may want to share your favorite memory about the deceased, and ask your staff in any of them would like to offer up a tale of their own. If no one volunteers, that’s okay, do not push them. To help the deceased’s family, you can also discuss taking up a collection with your employees to help with the funerary costs.

Making the Announcement to Clients

If the deceased had working relationships with your business’s clients, notify them immediately. While it is always best to deliver this type of information in person, it’s more than okay to deliver the news by phone or via email to your clients. After informing your customers of the news, let them know they will still be taken care of and that they can contact you personally if they have any questions or concerns.

Familiarize Yourself with the Deceased’s Calendar

Most workplaces have a shared electronic calendar that shows what each employee will be doing and when and where. Figure out the schedule of the deceased and spread out their tasks among your employees, including yourself.

Call Your Insurance Company

After an employee passes, their family will be eligible to receive their benefits. Inform your insurance agent that one of your employee’s has died, and ask if their surviving family is entitled to a stipend through your business insurance. If the employee’s death is not work related, your business insurance will not provide a stipend. If the employee’s death was work related, the family would receive compensation through workers compensation.

Allow for Time to Grieve

Death affects everyone differently. Most of your employees might be able to get back to work right away, but there could be a few stuck in a daze. Be patient with your staff and let them know it’s okay if they aren’t able to get back to business as usual. Give your employees a couple of weeks to adjust. If you notice after a couple of weeks that one or two are still having a hard time, have a private meeting with them and learn what you can do together to get them back to a better place. In some cases, this might mean letting your employee(s) take a mental day (or week) to let them gather themselves and get into a better headspace.

We all handle grief differently. To be a supportive boss, let your employees know they can come to you with questions or concerns. Your business will be made all the stronger for it. To learn more about management and business insurance, click here.

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