Bereavement – Supporting employees through bereavement

Bereavement – Supporting employees through bereavement

A bereavement can be nothing short of devastating and different people are affected by bereavements in different ways, as an employer, it is important that you have an understanding of how to best handle an employee dealing with loss and how you can adapt to fit their emotional needs.


As an employer or manager, you will need to be aware of the effects the grief may cause to the employee and also how they’ll perform within their job role.  Whilst some employees may find work to be a coping mechanism and distraction from their bereavement, others may find it a cause of additional stress, there are steps you can take as an employer to reduce this stress.


Offer an ear – It has become apparent that employees struggle to discuss the likes of anxiety, stress, depression and a wider range of emotions in a fear that they will expose a weakness or flaw in the workplace. Offering a safe and confidential environment for your employees to openly discuss their feelings and worries may aid their recovery process, knowing they can discuss their thoughts and feelings without being judged or scrutinized for it. At a time of bereavement, the perceived pressure of having to keep a stiff upper lip can put a tremendous amount of pressure on an employee, let your employees know that they can speak in confidence without judgment.


Ask for your employee’s preferences – Death affects us all differently and how an employee will want to proceed following a bereavement is their choice, offering flexibility and being adaptable to their needs will show that as an employer you value your staff beyond the key functions of their job role. Have a clear understanding of your company’s policy with regards to bereavement leave and extend this option to aid in their recovery, some employees may not exercise this right but others may need time to grieve and decompress. It’s also important that you consult with the employee with regards to how their bereavement is communicated within the business, it may be a point that they do not wish to discuss upon their return and this choice should be respected.


Communicate – Being a manager/employer extends beyond setting tasks and managing your employee’s workload, showing care and attention for their emotional needs is also important. Staying in touch with employees on bereavement leave and having regular keep in touch meetings will help the employees return to work run smoother, allowing you to make adaptations and changes to their workplace/job role and responsibilities upon their return, based on the thoughts, feelings, and concerns expressed in these meetings/calls.


It is important that as an employer you have clearly outlined bereavement policies, outlining any rights to bereavement leave to employees should they face this unfortunate situation.


If you have any questions or queries about managing bereavement or putting a policy in place, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the HPC team today. Give us a call on 0844 800 5932 or email


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