No one wants to talk about… BUT it’s there! Grief in the workplace, that heavy thing that fills up the air, that is always around a “cubbie” or a “nook” and appears from no where.
As I travel across the country, doing keynotes, seminars and most recently talking to Professional Caregivers, I am amazed at the number of folks who talk about grief in the workplace. Those who are working and just living their lives when all of a sudden the office becomes ever so quiet you can hear a pin drop on a carpeted floor, then the cry of someone who has called to check on Mom or received a call from a relative with the horrible of the horrible news:
Someone has died.
What happens then will set the stage for how a company is thought of for the rest of its life. We all know of the traditional and time honored tradition of
three days of bereavement leave! Three days is hardly enough time to make the plans, to wrap your brain around the reality of a death, much less to attend a funeral and return back to a state or ability to perform at full capacity your professional role. We can only hope that we work for an organization that recognizes the importance of staff support and understanding when that crisis or death occurs. A Staff with the leadership and presence of mind to
STAND UP and honor the loss that is felt deeply by an employee during such times of angst. It is then that the “rubber hits the road”, when the support is needed and understanding is often lost in the needs of the work left to be done.
We are not very good at dealing with issues surrounding loss and death. We are at a loss after the services are held and all the casserole dishes are returned when folks attempt to then get used to the quiet and the lack of those who “drop in” and offer attempts at comfort.
It is in the days and months following the service that support is needed the most; when those employers and fellow employees are fearful of what to do or say or how to be to the grieving co-worker.
This is when seminars, workshops, and time allowed for ritual and understanding can and do benefit those working along with those who are in charge to allow their employees to see that “yes we care about our employees” and we are here for you.
It is also the time to recognize that grief and loss do affect productivity and absentissm, it will infect and affect how a person is able to perform along with the support and understanding they receive at the place they spend the majority of their time.
As I travel around the country, I have noticed that in all professional fields, people are tired, they are doing much more with less and they are hungry for seminars, for trainings and for tools to help them to do their best.
They are also grieving losses, cumulative sorrows that are not being acknowledged in the workplace!
It is time we pay attention and attend to the needs of those who are working and also caregiving at home for parents and loved ones who are ill and who are aging, many are doing so much in addition to that which they call their professional lives.
If you are working and caregiving at home, let others know… Ask for what you need!
If you are grieving let folks know so that they may offer and provide support, but do not be amazed if they do not know what to do, or if they avoid you… It is uncomfortable for many who are not used to providing support to others!
It is time for stretching, and for reaching to care for those we call our best, to ensure they stay our best… the investment is worth it!
Take Best Care of YOU!