The National Council for Palative Care, The Dying Matters Organization, and the National Bereavement Alliance recently teamed up to study how employers and workplaces handle the bereaved. The study worked with four thousand individuals and what they found out is startling.

The Results of the Study

According to the report, the country’s employers are doing their employees a massive disservice. Among other things, this report reveals:

  • One third of those who have dealt with the loss of a loved one within the last five years do not feel that their employers handled the matter well.
  • Half of those polled said that, even in this uncertain employment market, they would seriously consider seeking employment elsewhere if their current employer did not or could not provide them with a proper level of support in the event of a loved one’s passing.
  • 80% of those polled said that employers needed to adopt a “compassionate employment policy”—a policy that would allow for paid bereavement leave and other types of support like flexible working hours while dealing with grief.
  • 81% believed that paid bereavement leave should be a legal right.

The report sums things up by saying that it is in employers’ best interest to offer paid bereavement leave and to put together compassionate employment packages and policies for their companies. There is too much to be lost, according to the report, by not providing the right kind and amount of support to an employee dealing with bereavement and grief.

How Grief Affects Us

Grief affects everybody differently but, by forcing people back into the workforce before they are ready or requiring them to work regular hours while dealing with bereavement responsibilities like funeral planning, employers are hurting themselves. Employees in these conditions are distracted, unreliable and show a definite lack of productivity. Essentially, employers are paying for the employee to not get a lot done anyway—why not offer the paid leave so that the employee can come back refreshed (as refreshed as one can be) and ready to get things done?

More and more people are going to die each year—this is simply how our population is built. This means that there are going to be more and more instances in which an employee is trying to work while grieving. Business could slow down significantly if steps aren’t taken to deal with the increased need for flexibility and compassion.

What Employers Can Do

Studies have shown that employees who felt cared for by their employers were more loyal to those employers and better able to cope with the grieving process. Sending cards saying “we’re all thinking of you and sorry for your loss” might seem like a tiny gesture, but for the bereaved it is support.

Having a bereavement policy already in place (or developing one now if you do not already have one) can also help smooth out the transition for an employee. Knowing exactly what they are getting and what is expected of them this can help alleviate worry in a stressful time. Nobody should be worrying about the state of their employment while attending a loved one’s funeral

Employers could train their staff to deal with grieving and the bereaved. The awkwardness of being surrounded by co-workers who do not know what to do or how to accommodate a grieving person, makes life hard on everyone and can have a serious impact on workplace productivity.

Not Just the Workplace

Grief is a difficult experience for everyone and, more often than not, the grieving person ends up consoling those around them. This is not how it should be. When dealing with this type of intensely painful experience, the bereaved should be the one being comforted. Allowing for time off, being able to show compassion, instead of awkwardness and showing support even when it feels like it isn’t enough, are all ways to do that. Please let your Brighton and Hove funeral director know if your employer is unable or unwilling to be flexible on your working hours, we can always work with you anytime, day or night.