How to Deal With Grieving Employees

Author: Sherri L. Shaw

The basic stages of grief as established by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. However, these are not linear stages and most people revert back after progressing to the next stage. Dr. Kubler-Ross's work has been modified to apply to losses other than death. Likewise, these tips can be modified to accommodate various losses an employee might endure. Grief is a process, not an event. Employers cannot expect an employee to just get over the loss. Many studies have asked people who have not suffered a significant loss how long it takes to get over the loss of a loved one. Answers included days, weeks, months and a year. Few guessed much longer. Similar questions were asked of those who had suffered a significant loss. Most answers were similar to this one: "You never get over it; you just learn to get through the day." There is a great deal of ignorance about grief and loss, so it is important to educate staff on the topic. It is inevitable that employees will suffer some losses, many of which will affect their work performance. Here are several steps that employers can take to help employees through the grieving process.