Grief and Loss Support within the Workplace

Laura recently gave a presentation at an event hosted by Einblau & Associates (www.einblau.com).  You can access the video here.

This graphic recording of the presentation was provided by Get The Picture (www.getthepicture.ca)

Drawing upon decades of leadership experience within the corporate environment, I design programs to assist leaders who struggle to have conversations, of an emotional nature, with their direct reports or team members. By providing them with the skills and tools needed in order to speak openly and honestly with their staff about sensitive subjects, I help leaders proactively address situations that might otherwise result in many layers of productivity disruption.

Productivity disruption can adversely impact organizations on many levels:

  • lost revenue resulting from a decline in an employee’s productivity
  • lost revenue attributed to employee absences
  • lost revenue due to presenteeism in the workplace
  • lost revenue because of increased demands on employees who are providing coverage for an absent employee
  • lost revenue that might be attributed to disenfranchised employees
  • lost revenue that might result because of the costs associated with hiring and re-training new employees should an employee have to be terminated

The hidden cost of grief in the workplace is staggering. The Grief Recovery Institute® has collected a considerable amount of US data over the years, culminating in the 2003 Grief Index. US figures were updated in 2017 and were calculated using annual inflation data through January 2017. The following table highlights the changes and reveals the significant impact grief has on the workplace. Figures are represented in billions.

Grief Incident 2003 2017

  • Death of a loved one $37.6 B $49.3B
  • Divorce $11.1 B $14.6 B
  • Family crisis $9 B $11.8 B
  • Financial crisis $4.5 B $5.9 B
  • Death (extended family, friends) $7 B $9.2 B
  • Major lifestyle alterations $2.4 B $3.1 B
  • Pet loss $2.4 B $3.1 B
  • Others $1.2 B $1.6 B

Total: $75.1 B $98.6 B

Source: The Grief Recovery Institute® The Grief Index and Updated Data Figures (May 2020).

I offer several workshops that might be suitable for your organization including:

  • training programs to provide the skills and tools needed by leaders to talk to their direct reports or team members about difficult, painful or emotional subjects
  • in-person presentations (once permitted), or webinars designed to help educate employees about grief and loss, and how such feelings may be impairing their ability to be fully present in the workplace
  • educational, printed material about grief and loss, suitable for distribution to all employees
  • individual and/or group Grief Recovery Method┬« support programs

Workshops customized to your organization’s specific needs can also be created.

Additionally, I would be happy to review existing bereavement policies and return to work policies to see if any suggestions or changes are recommended.

As a leader, having tools to use to assist employees, in the moment, is vital. As a leader, it is important to be able to determine what options might be available to employees or to team members who might be struggling in the workplace. By proactively addressing unmet emotional needs, business leaders may be well-positioned to help mitigate the risks associated with lost productivity, which can result any time an employee is required to take a medical leave or is placed on short term disability leave (which may lead to a long term disability leave).

By being proactive, you have the ability to discuss an employee’s potential needs with them, you may be able to determine if professional help is needed, if a referral to the organization’s EAP program is needed or if there are alternate community-based resources which may be of benefit. Ultimately, by being proactive through conversation, you may help mitigate some of the risks that could result in lost productivity.

Employees are more likely to respond favourably, and with greater loyalty when they feel they have been supported by their organization following a significant loss which is represented in this Chicago Tribune article: As baby boomers age, ‘we are in for a death boom.’ Grief expert urges support for mourning workers

This Huffington Post article about Grief in the Workplace also contains valuable information The Death and Dying Series Part Two: Grief in the American Workplace

How well prepared are you as an HR professional, business leader, manager, supervisor or team leader to help your employees, direct reports, colleagues, or co-workers if they are struggling with grief, loss, sad or painful emotions? Do you know what to say? Do you understand the importance of staying in the moment with them? Are you comfortable sitting with somebody if they start crying? Can you listen without analyzing, criticizing, or judging them? Can you resist the temptation to try to ‘fix’ them?

If you don’t feel well equipped in any of these areas, please reach out to me to see how I can support the efforts within your organization. For a free 30-minute consultation, please call me at 403-510-3141 or reach out to me by email at ljones@laurajonesconsulting.com.