On February 14, 2018, the world witnessed a tragedy that has become all too familiar, another school shooting. On a day that was supposed to be about love and peace, turned dark and cold for so many.
How could one person take seventeen beautiful souls? We ask ourselves why did this have to happen, we say prayers for the families who now have to learn how to move on without their child, and we call on congress for change, yet again. It’s hard to imagine how you go on after such a devastating tragedy. Simple things like going back to work seem like mountains to climb. While we look for answers, one thing is for sure; time doesn’t stand still for the ones who need it to the most. Instead, you learn how to compromise with time, and make the most of what he gives you. Time doesn’t wait for no one - this is why there is more to life than the nine-to-five grind.
Last week was tough. Sometimes you don’t get a “do over”. What you do get is a chance to put things in perspective, and not take the life you’ve been blessed with for granted. With a nine-hour drive on a long weekend getaway, I had time to reflect, time to think, and time to write…
I asked myself, how can employers and HR support employees through grief and loss? Are bereavement leave policies enough? In a time of unspeakable loss, what are some things that HR can do to support their employees and organization?
1. Have a plan, not just a policy:
To my fellow HR professionals, let’s work together with management and executives to create a plan to support employees in their time of need. Let’s do more than just contact the employee and share information about our organization’s bereavement policy. A great example is from Ernst & Young. EY provided dedicated HR support to the family of one of their employees who was critically hurt in the Las Vegas mass shooting tragedy. Thankfully, this EY employee survived, and her story showed us that an employer can really champion for their employees when they need them the most.
2. It’s time to lead the way:
What can we do to prepare fellow employees for a grieving employee’s return to work? The employee will be dealing with emotions that come with grief. Even on the simplest of tasks, there will be lack of focus and difficulty with concentrating. HR and management can partner with one another to lead the way in helping the employee navigate back into the workplace.
3. Give space, it takes time:
The single most important thing we can do to help an employee return to work is to give space. What if we created a private place where the employee can go to take a break when she is feeling overwhelmed with emotions? Sometimes the littlest things we do can go a long way.
Originally published on Pocketful of Chelles blog.
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