Proactive plans for the workplace
The Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief Initiative explains that any workplace can be bereavement friendly, and this can be achieved through a combination of the right policies and building a culture where there is a collective capacity to support one another in flexible ways.
“Though written policies have huge potential to help, much of a person’s workplace experience is shaped by the behaviour of their individual manager and colleagues. Understanding, empathy and practical support from colleagues has an important impact on how well supported someone feels in bereavement.” - Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care (2018)
Their Scottish Bereavement Friendly Workplaces Toolkit, linked in the checklist below, provides a wide range of guidance and information which should be accessed now, rather than waiting for something to happen before the right things are in place.
Checklist of Workplace Practice
Now is a good time to conduct a review of your workplace practices that can support your employees’ wellbeing. We have included a checklist here to help you think about the most important aspects to include in this review.
Practical things to think about:
Support them to understand all their leave options and explore how best to ensure that they get the support they need.
If you are able offer additional leave, even if that has to be unpaid, this may also include specific times of the year or years ahead for anniversaries or other instances where they may struggle more than at other times.
Someone may need to adjust their working pattern for lots of different reasons. For example they may have had to adapt to new responsibilities such as caring for family members. Equally ensuring that they have the option to phase back into work and time for self care activities, including more regular breaks throughout the day may be necessary.
Ask the individual how they would like other staff informed and who specifically should be told.
Identify any training or support needs that might exist within the wider staff team and put these in place as best as you are able.
Within the workplace think about how you will encourage peer support for emotional, practical and social needs within the team.
Consider the wider culture of the team and discuss this with the individual, identify roles and activities that can be used to develop a supportive workplace culture.
If your workplace has an Employee Assistance Programme or some form of other support you should ensure that they are aware of that and know how to contact them.
Within the team make sure that the line manager is available to discuss their welfare needs on an open door policy and think about a colleague who can just check-in and offer peer support.
Be prepared and consider discussing anticipated days that will be more difficult and the possibility of a signal or phrase that can be used if the person is feeling overwhelmed.
You might consider changing their responsibilities on a temporary basis to support a phased return to work. Some people may benefit from being less publicly facing or to work from home. Don't assume but discuss what may help with them employee and plan based on their preferences and needs.
Links for more information
Checklist of Workplace Practice