There is an old saying that the two things we can be certain of in life are death and taxes. Employers can be guaranteed that, at some point, they will need to contend with a grieving employee. If an employee knows that someone is going to die, grieving can begin long before death actually occurs.

Whenever grieving begins, employers can expect that employees may exhibit:

  • Changes in eating habits
  • Weepiness – individuals feeling like they can’t cope
  • Problems with sleeping – restlessness
  • Lack of physical energy – sense of fogginess
  • Difficulty remembering information
  • Limited concentration, empathy, and/or patience
  • Workaholic behaviours – be aware of this and understand that a) it may be temporary and b) working longer does not necessarily mean the job is getting done well and accurately

It takes energy to grieve. The truth is grieving is exhausting work and can impact the brain’s functioning. This is normal and usually temporary responses to grief. One of the challenges with grief from an employer’s perspective is that this “temporary” timeframe is undefined and varies for each person.

In order to assist an employee’s return to optimal functioning and productivity levels, the employer can do a number of things:

  • If the employee is involved in caring for a terminally ill individual, provide the employee with information regarding Compassionate Care Benefits through EI
  • Consider a paid or unpaid leave of absence
  • Consider a reduced work week
  • Consider changing job tasks temporarily
  • Recommend the use of Employee Assistance Plans if available
  • Locate community grief supports (group or counselling) and provide info to the employee
  • Recommend the use of the book The Grief Recovery Handbook
  • Encourage the grieving employee to advise what would be most helpful to them at work
  • Remind the employee that they are not “in the wrong” when they exhibit any of the behaviours mentioned above
  • Provide Kleenex. Seriously.

by Sarah-Jane VandenBerg, Blogger for Agilec

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