Five Essential Keys to Coping with Grief in the Virtual Workplace
In our society, working has become part of who we are and how we define ourselves. Dealing with death is also part of being human, and that means work and loss often become intertwined.
If you are in a management or leadership position, you have probably experienced grieving employees and coworkers, and perhaps you have even endured the loss of a team member. For most of us, the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the number of these sorrowful events. As people transitioned to remote working and social interactions dwindled, feelings of isolation grew, increasing grief responses and ushering in a roller coaster of new emotions. It’s created a new working environment filled with ups and downs and uncertainty, and much of it exists in a digital landscape.
In this article, we have compiled some helpful tips for managing grief in the virtual workplace.
Acknowledge the loss.
When an employee passes away, it is important to create space and time for coworkers to talk about what has happened. This is true in the physical workspace as well as the virtual one. It can be helpful to set aside time during virtual staff meetings to monitor how everyone is doing in addition to performing individual check-ins via phone and/or email. When you communicate to your team members about the loss, be sure to include a list of resources where they can get access to bereavement support.
Expect a wide range of reactions.
The loss of a colleague can affect people in many different ways. Some may be deeply affected while others may be more accepting of the loss. Those who were particularly close to the departed may be quite grief-stricken. Some workers might want to talk about their feelings, while others may prefer to deal with them privately. In addition, adjustment can take a long time for some people. Be aware of the different ways that your employees may react to loss and respect those differences.
Be flexible with bereavement leave.
Time away from work can be a healer for many people, but for others, it can usher in pain and intensify sorrow. Companies need to avoid reliance on a singular blanket approach for all situations involving loss. People deal with death in different ways and providing a set number of days for people to grieve is not realistic. Your policy should take this into consideration as much as possible. Let grieving workers know that they should speak to you or HR if they require additional time off.
Determine how much information is appropriate.
If the passing was unexpected or comes with difficult details, work with your human resources team to determine how much information should be shared. Rumors travel faster than facts and your employees might assume the worst if you don’t provide information. In the remote work environment, it also becomes easier for communication to get muddled and misinterpreted. Having an open discussion can help clarify the facts, dispel rumors, and facilitate a healthy grieving process.
When a colleague or loved one passes away, it’s a challenging time and many adjustments must be made both personally and professionally. People may not be at their best, particularly those who are most affected by the loss. Be patient and understanding with your team members during this difficult time. Find ways to cooperate, show that you care, and share any additional workload that may result.
Coping with death is never easy but it can be especially challenging in the virtual workplace. If you would like more information or access to appropriate resources, our caring professionals are always here to assist you. Please contact us anytime.
About Batchelor Brothers Funeral Services: As a leading African American-owned and operated funeral and cremation organization, Batchelor Brothers Funeral Services has provided a ministry of care to thousands of grieving families. We promise to provide our highest level of distinguished service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved ones. In all aspects of the funeral process, we strive to be the absolute best and are honored to help preserve our clients’ legacies for future generations. With two convenient locations serving North and West Philadelphia, it is always our pleasure to be of service. Please visit our website for more information.