Nearly 10 million Americans are affected each year by the death of someone close to them, and nearly half of these will be grieving in the workplace. Here's what you, as a team leader, should remember and consider:
Ask how you can help. Find out how much privacy a grieving team member wants; what information you can share with the team; and how ready the team member is to assume a full workload. And remember that, at this emotionally volatile time, the answers can change from day to day—so keep asking. Let the employee tell you when it's OK to share what you know with others in the enterprise.
Support the whole team. A loss, especially a sudden one, can have an emotional impact on an entire team, so be ready to offer extra support. Recognize that other team members are bearing both an emotional burden of their own and, often, work responsibilities that the grieving team member can't yet shoulder.
Fight isolation. It may seem inappropriate to involve a grieving team member in social plans, but the long-term consequences of isolation and loneliness are far more damaging. Also, encourage all your team members to offer whatever support they want to their grieving colleague. Helping their teammate helps them deal with their emotional responses to the loss.
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