Manager's Role with Grief
When an employee suffers a loss
- If an employee is gone for an extended period remember to stay in touch and support the employee’s self care.
- Ask employee what information they would like to have shared with their peers.
- Ask the employee what they need upon their return to work:
- Questions about their situation and process or more focus on the work tasks
- A place they know they can retreat to if their grief surges during the day
- Help in setting work priorities and making decisions
- Check in with employee often to determine what is needed as needs may change.
- Know that as you check in the employee will continue to grief even as support and comfort are offered and accepted.
- Expect only the best from the employee however be prepared to accept less than the best for a period of time.
- Acknowledge the loss and the grief. There is no right thing to say. The wrong thing is nothing.
- Limits may need to be set. There are ways to be supportive by suggesting professional resources.
When an employee is seriously ill
- Clarify with the employee what is to be shared and what is to remain confidential.
- Identify a contact person to keep co-workers updated and encourage co-workers to send messages of support.
- Ask if phone calls are wanted or if cards would be preferred ways of showing support.
- Offer assistance in the form of Human Resources programs.
- Remember that not all employees will have similar reactions to the illness or loss. Allow for these differences while validating everyone’s experience.
- If illness is impacting workplace for other employees consider a facilitated meeting to allow co-workers to process their experience of the situation.
When grief is a daily part of the work
- Find ways to weave self-care into meetings with employees.
- Be a role model. Practice what you preach regarding self-care.
- Acknowledge losses. Name them and find ways to cope as a team.
- Expect that hospice work has an impact on employees and act accordingly.
- Encourage and expect employees to find ways to balance the impact of hospice work on their lives.
- Understand that any loss may require adjustments and readjustments.
- Know that resurgences of grief require the same attention as initial situations.
- Understand Coping with Professional Anxiety in Death and Dying stages and coach employees accordingly.