- According to an article at BenefitsPro, the grieving process after the death of a relative or co-worker is the last thing most employees want to talk or even think about.
- Grieving in the workplace, if not handled properly, can create a toxic situation, says author Alan Goforth.
- For example, a lack of concentration can result in lost productivity, poor judgment and accidents. In a pioneering study called the Grief Index, the Grief Recovery Institute, in in Sherman Oaks, Calif., surveyed 25,000 grieving workers and concluded that grief associated with the death of a loved one costs U.S. businesses $37.6 billion annually.
Russell Friedman, executive director of the Grief Recovery Institute, told BenefitsPro that employers need to step up and do something before grief descends on the workplace. However, many employees are reluctant to discuss grief and death-related issues.
"Preplanning for funeral and bereavement services is a superb idea," Friedman told BenefitsPro. "However, not everyone in our society is willing to listen to a talk on the subject, because there is so much misinformation and so many people are terrified with by the topic. This means a good HR person will have to use language that encourages people to participate."
HR leaders also should make sure each employee clearly understands the company's bereavement policy. Friedman encourages putting more thought into the policy than just simply following legal mandates. Among other strategies, he also recommends using Employee Assistance Programs, which can offer individual counseling, face-to-face bereavement sessions and onsite support in case of a death.