#Nextchat: Helping Employees with 'Option B'


We all know that employees do not leave their personal selves at the workplace door. The experiences we have outside of work inform who we are at work.

That is why we spend so much effort--or we should--on helping develop a culture that makes it easier for employees to manage work and life. But, there is one part of life that is often left out:  death.

That brings me to Option B by Facebook COO and author of Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg, and her friend and psychologist, Adam Grant, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Originals. A fantastic collaboration, Option B is based on Sheryl's loss of her husband, Dave, and her painful but inspirational journey forward.

Option A is the employee's life with the loved one. Option B is surviving without him or her.

On a personal level, when I lost my dad, I felt like Sheryl: I would never be fully happy again. The hole in my heart was too wide and raw. The hole is still there—it always will be—but I am fully happy again, as my dad would want me to be.

I miss my dad every day, but feel his love and presence as much as I miss him. It was not just family and friends but also colleagues (who also are friends) who have helped me develop the resilience I needed to accept the unacceptable. 

We all become members of this club that no one wants to join. We hopefully become more empathic souls as a result. Option B is a clarion call for those of us who can do more to do just that.

This #Nextchat will focus on how HR can help employees deal with Option B.

Please join @shrmnextchat at 3 p.m. ET on May 31 for #Nextchat with special guest Jonathan Segal (@Jonathan_HR_Law).  We’ll chat about the ways HR and managers can support grieving employees. 

Q1. Why is it important that HR provide support to grieving employees?

Q2. Why do you think many colleagues avoid providing support to grieving employees?

Q3. What are some ways you can show an employee who has lost a loved one that you care?

Q4. What are some well-intended expressions that may make the employee feel worse and/or belie your good intent?

Q5. How do you minimize the legal risks of caring and when should you avoid showing support for a grieving employee?

Q6. How does the FMLA potentially apply beyond an employer’s bereavement leave policy?

Q7. How much bereavement leave should be offered?  Do you think employers offer enough? 

Q8. What final thoughts or advice can you offer to make employees' Option B more bearable?


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