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Why Your Company Should Offer Bereavement Leave

07 Feb


Benefits packages are often highlighted by the basics like health insurance, parental leave, and retirement options. These are vital, but they are not the only benefits that are important. Bereavement leave is an often-overlooked benefit, but it is definitely needed in the event that your employees lose a loved one. Offering this benefit can boost morale by showing your team that you care and see them as more than just workers.

Bereavement leave gives your employees the opportunity to take time away from work to grieve a loss without worrying about work, being forced to use vacation time, or expediting their return to work despite the grief that is being suffered.

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Benefits of Bereavement

The death of a parent, grandparent, spouse, or child can often come as a shock, even if the passing is somewhat expected. It is a difficult time for your employee—work is most likely the last thing on their mind. Without bereavement leave, some of those employees may have no choice but to come to work anyway, fighting through grief to do their jobs half-heartedly. This is a lose-lose situation. There is no benefit from forcing a worker’s return.

A grieving employee won’t be able to do their best work in the aftermath of a tragedy, and may even develop feelings of resentment for being at work instead of with family. This is a slippery slope that could lead to decreased productivity long after the grieving period has settled. If a worker feels unsupported at a time like this, it may even result in them leaving the company.

Perhaps most importantly, bereavement leave is another way to show how much you value your team members and understand that they have lives, loved ones, and priorities outside of the workplace. That acknowledgment is how you influence a worker to develop loyalty to a company. Respecting their work-life balance is an easy way to make sure your team is taken care of and happy at your company. 

Making Your Plan

The lack of bereavement leave standards and regulations in the US is, unfortunately, quite common and widespread. In America, there is no set law giving workers paid time off to attend the funeral of a loved one. Most US workers receive three days to grieve the loss of a family member. Not only are these unfair issues, but they are harmful to people and their grieving process. Luckily, as an employer, you can decide to implement bereavement leave into your benefits plan.

Crafting a benefits package for your employees is tough, but bereavement leave is especially valuable. A PEO like VensureHR can help you create a custom benefits package that best fits your team’s needs.

How to Help Your Grieving Employee

The Mayo Clinic recognizes the complexity of normal grief, which can last for months after a loss, and complicated grief, “…an ongoing, heightened state of mourning that keeps you from healing.” Symptoms are generally the same for both types of grief, which means most of your workers who deal with loss will experience some or all of the following for at least a few weeks or months:

  • Intense pain and rumination
  • Inability to focus on anything but the loved one’s death
  • Numbness and detachment
  • Lack of trust in others
  • Difficulty accepting the death

Everyone grieves differently, and even after a few days or weeks away from work, your grieving team member will likely still struggle. Here are a few ways to help in this situation.

Ask what is needed

Some employees may want to get right back to their full workload. Others may prefer to ease into their work again at a slower pace. Be flexible and available to your affected team member, and work with them on a plan that is a good fit for them when transitioning back into the workplace.

Teach your team what to say

Many people can become uncomfortable in situations like these. It is difficult to know what to say. Host a quick meeting for your team, and discuss the negative impact of well-meaning, but ultimately unhelpful, phrases such as, “he’s in a better place,” or, “everything happens for a reason.” Instead, consider offering more helpful phrases or offers like, “If you’d like to talk about her, I’d be happy to listen over lunch today.” Watch and listen to the griever for cues on what he or she needs from you—space or connection, conversation or quiet.

Recognize the symptoms of grief

When you understand that you have a worker that is struggling, you are more able to help. Oftentimes, with grief, there really isn’t anything you can say to make the situation better. By simply offering support and flexibility, you are giving your employee room to grieve and take their time with this difficult process.

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Get Help From VensureHR

If you have questions about bereavement leave benefits and how to implement them in your business, schedule a benefits consultation with VensureHR today. Our team is happy to help you understand the importance of this benefit and work with you to apply it seamlessly into your employee benefits package.

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