Grief in the workplace

Serious illness and death can shock us in a workplace. As a inclusive leader when a staff/coworker becomes seriously ill or even dies, or they suffer a loss in their family – your company’s productivity and the dynamics of your workplace are affected.

Grief is an emotional response to any kind of loss. This loss could be a loss of a loved one, a job, your health, a relationship, a pet, your home, a dream, etc.

The total annual cost of employee grief is $75-$100 billion annually. When one looks deeper, the costs of grief are often hidden under the statistics. For example the cost of mental illnesses to the Canadian economy is estimated at over $50 billion annually, with $20 billion of that stemming directly from workplace losses. Grief impacts to more than $6 billion in lost productivity from absenteeism, and turnover.

My father died recently and I was reminded about the importance of leadership and how they manage grief and loss in the workplace. On average, 3 – 4 days are allotted for the death of a spouse or child, and yet in that time many are still in shock and have not processed the death.

I have seen the impact of employees and managers not managing grief in a sensitive and empathetic manner. The stages of grief are shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and, finally, acceptance. We all grieve in our own way, we may not go through all the stages or we may go through them in a different order. It is therefore essential for leaders to understand how they can support their people through the grief process.

The question is what are you going to do about it? The answer - learn more about grief in the workplace. Because grief does come or has already visited and as leader you need to be prepared on how you can help your people.

Here are 10 ways you can support a grieving employee or coworker.