Fostering a Supportive Workplace for Grieving Employees

Aug 30, 2023 | Main Blog | 0 comments

August 30th marks National Grief Awareness Day, a day that brings to light a topic often uncomfortable and unfortunately overlooked, particularly within the workplace.

As of August 1, 2023, the global death toll due to the coronavirus alone has exceeded 6 million, according to the Worldometers website. This one piece of data alone should serve as a compelling reason for leadership and development training organizations to consider providing enhanced guidance for managers to support their employees who may be grieving.

From my own experiences of loss, I have seen the importance of knowing when and how to temporarily set aside ROI assessments and project deadlines to foster a supportive environment for our most vital asset – our human capital.

Grief is an unavoidable presence that infiltrates our workplaces every day. It coexists with the employee who clocks in for their morning shift and stands beside the executive, striving to close a deal over a game of golf. Given its omnipresence, managers cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the grief experienced by their team members.

When the topic of grief arises within the workplace, I’d like to offer a simple acronym that can help guide your response:

Gracious: Respond to your employee’s situation with an empathetic ear, offering compassion. Your employee seeks acknowledgment and understanding.

Respect without Judgment: As a leader, your role is to respect your employee’s situation. It’s not about fixing or judging; your presence and support matter most.

Inquire: Given the circumstances and crises at hand, you may need to adjust workloads and priorities. Take the time to inquire about how you can alleviate their burden and provide support.

Encourage: Your employee might benefit from external support. Consider workplace resources like an Employee Assistance Program or other services your HR Department can offer. If benefits are limited, reaching out to local community programs might yield additional avenues of support.

Follow Up: Continue to check in with your employee demonstrating that you genuinely care and understand that healing from a painful loss is not a swift process.

Recognizing the significance of National Grief Awareness Day and the ongoing impact of grief on our workforce, I encourage all leaders to embrace their responsibility to respond to their employees with compassion and empathy. Take some time to educate yourself on grief in the workplace and consider how you might handle a situation before an unexpected conversation arises. When a leader extends a hand during a vulnerable time for an employee, they will certainly foster a more collaborative and supportive workplace which ultimately benefits the employee and manager relationship and is in return an investment in the organization.

Her Nexx Chapter invites you to join our free Community where women from around the world are connecting with each other’s stories, exploring different experiences, and transforming ideas.

The Future of Connection for Women


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Laurene Klassen
Latest posts by Laurene Klassen (see all)

Follow Us!