The loss of a loved one is unavoidable and will happen to every single one of us at some point. Regrettably, we have dealt with it more during the past year. Supporting employees through grief is one of the hardest and most sensitive tasks you will undertake as a business owner.
Here are a few suggestions that you can consider during such a sensitive time:
Communicate with the employee
Part of being a great leader is displaying emotional intelligence. As soon as you become aware that one of your employees has experienced a loss, contact them directly to express your condolences and to let them know you support them. Receiving support from top management means more to employees than you can imagine.
Give them time off
Let the employee know that they can take all the time they need and refrain from mentioning HR policies. They most likely already know how many days with pay they can take. Just focus on reassuring them that it is okay to take the time off that they need. You can create a strategy for reassigning their duties after they take their leave.
Since these situations are often so sudden, the employee may not know there are places to turn to help with their grief. This is where you can really provide support by sharing information on available grief counseling and other services that can assist the employee during this terrible time. This is also a good time to review your HR policy to include some type of benefit or financial plan that can help with these losses, especially if an employee has to cover the cost of a funeral.
Be patient and accommodating when the employee returns to work
Reiterate that you care about them and support them. Maintain an open-door policy and if possible, consider offering a transition period back to a normal routine.
It is important to focus on the individual and demonstrate support by providing a personal touch. Be empathetic and caring. After all, much of the success of your business relies on the talented people in your team.