I recently had an HR Bartender reader contact me about how to handle a very tough situation. One of the employees at her company had committed suicide. At the same time that I received her note, I saw a couple of posts on my Facebook page about employees who had lost a co-worker to illness.
Death is a difficult subject. Organizations need to realize that on most days, employees spend one-third or more of their time with co-workers. They celebrate successes together. They deal with failures together. Employees talk about their lives over coffee in the breakroom and pizza during training. When employees hear about the death of a co-worker, it’s an emotional time.
I found a few resources that you might want to bookmark when the time comes for your company to deal with workplace grief.
When I worked for the airline, we had a crash. All of the passengers died, including the crew. The company brought in grief counselors to walk around and talk with employees. The counselors scheduled regular calls with people who were on the emergency response team to see how they were doing. That happened for months after the crash. Yes, months. Employees who admitted they didn’t even know the crew were upset. The organization was committed to making sure everyone had the opportunity to process workplace grief.
I know none of us like talking about death and dying. I don’t like it either. But as human resources professionals, we need to help our organizations during these tough times. If you have an employee assistance program, reach out to them. Talk to your health insurance broker. Call a community-based organization that can help.
Hopefully, you will never have to use this list. But you will find some comfort in knowing you have it.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the Wynwood Wall Art District in Miami, FL16