Grief at work: a guide for companies

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Written by Doug Hampton

One out of two employees has been confronted with bereavement in the professional context and one out of three managers has had a grieving employee in his team. These simple data, from the CREDOC-Empreintes-CSNAF barometer “The French facing mourning” 2021 for the Empreintes association, reveal the importance of this subject, which is nevertheless largely unknown and/or ignored. The death of a loved one or that of a colleague weakens and can have serious consequences on the life of the bereaved, for a long time.

Gold “mourning does not disappear when the worker walks through the door of his workplace”, underlines the association. It is therefore with the aim of improving the consideration of this ordeal within companies that Empreintes publishes its guide “Mourning at work: how to accompany it”, intended for company managers, HRDs and RRHs, health and social work actors, and managers.

Practices to adopt, practices to avoid

A necessary guide given the overall picture. Indeed, 34 days off work per year on average are linked to bereavement and 11% of employees end up leaving their job. Not considering “80% of grieving workers find the support of their human resources department useless or inappropriate”, underlines the association. SO, “to be helpful, certain essential managerial behaviors must be anticipated so that work is a space that is both supportive and vigilant when a death occurs”, develops the guide. Which provides keys and reference sheets on “How to conduct an interview with an employee who has just lost a loved one?” or “What steps to take and how to inform relatives?”

Among the practices to adopt, the guide recommends in particular “to propose, promote or organize collective rituals” And “value the support between colleagues”. He advises against “underestimating the impact of the death of an employee on certain colleagues” or even of “radically change your attitude towards him (overprotection, rejection)”.

It is also essential to provide the relevant information to the data subject. “For example, telling an employee: “you have the right to so many days of legal leave, to which are added those of the branch or the company” will be more helpful than telling him: “take all your time” , without informing him of his bereavement leave rights”explains Marie Tournigand, General Delegate of Empreintes.

To find out more, do not hesitate to consult the Guide to bereavement at work.

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