Losing someone is always hard, no matter who they are. And it can be particularly difficult to bear when the deceased is someone you work with every single day. Perhaps they are a coworker or a committed employee who has strived tirelessly to help grow your business and deliver excellent work.
The news will come as an incredibly difficult blow to every single person on the team. When you work together as part of a close-knit team, you develop a bond, and it could take a long time before everyone can return to business as usual.
As an employer, you have a great deal of power in your hands to help people process their grief and move on. Although you of course want people to deal with the loss in their own way, you also have a responsibility to your clients to ensure they are receiving the best work possible.
It’s a difficult situation that can feel like a balancing act at times. You need to keep everyone happy while also dealing with your own grief simultaneously. To help you cope, here are a few tips for dealing with death in the workplace.
In the Western world, death is often seen as a taboo subject. People can be very reluctant to talk about it and tend to change the conversation to more positive topics. But acknowledging your feelings of loss is the best way to process grief and move on with your life. You don’t want your absent colleague to become an elephant in the room, creating a sense of awkwardness and misery.
Get your team together as soon as possible to discuss what has happened. Some people may feel like sharing their thoughts or memories, while others may not feel comfortable. What’s important is that you let your team know the office is a safe space where they can always say what is on their minds.
Celebrate their life
Having a celebration or a memorial as a workplace is a good way to help people process their emotions and allow everyone to get back to work and start to move on. Although the family will no doubt organize a funeral, you may wish to have an additional workplace event in the office. Provide refreshments, photos, funeral prayer cards, and music. Give each person the opportunity to laugh, cry, and share memories from their colleague’s life.
Look after the business
It may be asking a lot of your employees to immediately go back to producing the same high quality of work as before. Particularly for those who were close friends with the deceased. Give your staff time to grieve and do your best to help them manage their workloads in the following days. Be clear with them that there are expectations and deadlines they must meet, but offer some flexibility and understanding. It may be a good idea to let your clients know what has happened, as they may be more understanding about any delays and errors as a result.