Creating a Healthy Grief Culture In Business

Grief is an inevitable, natural part of life. Statistics show that 1 in 4 employees is grieving at any given time.* Unresolved grief can lead to physical and emotional costs including depression, cardiovascular risk, and recurring illness. The burden of grief can impact an employee’s ability to think and work, and can in turn affect coworkers and colleagues.

The Grief Recovery Institute documented the negative impact grief has on workplace productivity:

  • An average annual cost of $75 billion in lost productivity, lost business, and poor performance for all grief-inducing experiences
  • An estimated 30 work days lost each year by each employee experiencing grief with no support from coworkers or managers; 20% of employees will continue losing workdays for more than a year

* The Grief Recovery Institute Educational Foundation. (2003). Grief Index: The Hidden Annual Costs of Grief in America’s Workplace

These studies document that not only absenteeism, but also presenteeism – a reduction in the quality of work while on the job – is a major cost of grief.

“I put in my full eight-hour day, but for six months, I didn’t do more than four hours of work each day.”
—Grieving Manager as quoted in the Wall Street Journal

Proactively Building a Healthy Grief Culture Prepares Your Business for this Challenge

If not properly addressing grief in the workplace, your organization may be losing revenue and productivity. By eliminating the “avoidance approach” to grief, GrieveWell provides employees the skills and resources to manage their own grief experiences, while building a more compassionate environment that enhances morale, reduces burnout, and improves productivity.

GrieveWell has designed a range of workshops to prepare businesses and organizations to support bereaved employees. Working with your business, GrieveWell’s licensed grief expert will design a curriculum customized to your culture and needs. Workshops may range from a 1-hour lunch-and-learn to a series of workshops through which employees will receive the training, skills, and resources needed to successfully manage their own grief experiences, as well as to support coworkers through their grief journeys. Potential workshop topics include:

Grieve Well: Understanding Grief (Lunch and Learn)

Did you know that there are healthy ways to grieve? The first step is to understand this painful but important part of life. This 1-hour presentation provides a general overview of the grief process including understanding normal grief symptoms, regular patterns of grief experience, and recognizing complicated grief and when to seek help. During this workshop participants will gain knowledge of ways to “grieve well” in order to move toward healing and return to a full life after loss.
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Grief Support: How to Support Someone in Grief (2 Hours)

Do you know what to say to someone in grief? Do you know how to be helpful? During this 2-hour workshop participants will engage in interactive discussions and exercises to better understand the grief process, and will receive tips for how to create a supportive environment for bereaved coworkers. Participants will leave this workshop understanding the variety of normal grief symptoms, different patterns of grief experience, and recognizing complicated grief. In order to eliminate the “avoidance approach” to grief, participants will practice effective ways to support individuals in grief including what to say (and what NOT to say), and how to handle special dates such as holidays and anniversaries.
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Listen Well: Companioning the Bereaved (2 Hours)

Going into more depth than the “Grief Support” workshop above, this 2-hour interactive workshop teaches participants how to use the compassionate listening model to more deeply support individuals in grief. Participants will learn the theoretical background and practical skills for companioning the bereaved – a model of grief support pioneered by Dr. Alan Wolfelt, the nation’s foremost grief expert. Participants will learn about the natural grief response, and that while no one can take away grief, using compassionate listening skills allows one to honor and support the bereaved’s unique grief journey. This workshop is especially designed for businesses whose employees regularly interact with those in grief, including health care providers and those who provide services to seniors.
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