Managing Grief in the Workplace

Topic: Emotional Intelligence, Wellness
Publication: Academy of Management
Article:  Grief and the workplace.
Blogger: Benjamin Granger

To shed light on the issue of grief in the workplace, Mary Ann Hazen (2008) provided several suggestions for how managers and organizations can effectively respond to grieving employees.

Several suggestions provided by Hazen (2008) are presented below.

Managers can:
(1)  First, acknowledge that an employee is grieving (this seems simple, but it can have a major impact on the griever).

(2)  Make themselves available to listen to the griever if he/she needs to talk (this communicates compassion and caring and may lead to less strain on the part of the employee).

(3)  Recognize and make themselves aware of the common responses of grievers (e.g., understand how people typically respond as they move through stages of grief).

Organizations can:
(1)  Support and encourage the managerial behaviors listed above (managers cannot be effective without organizational support).

(2)  Provide opportunities for employees and managers to learn about the grieving process (provide courses, workshops, referrals and/or employee assistance programs).

(3)  And MOST IMPORTANTLY, recognize that although employee grief can hurt the organization as a whole (e.g., lost productivity), it’s not all just about dollars and cents!

Most successful organizations maintain “a sense of moral purpose, extra-organizational support, and excellent leadership” (p. 84), and this contributes to the emotional, psychological, and physical well-being of their employees.

Hazen, M. A. (2008). Grief and the workplace. The Academy of Management Perspectives, 22(3), 78-86.