An exploratory study of grief in the workplace : what do employers need to know?

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Trimble, Breda
Issue Date
BA (Hons) Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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Despite the inevitability of death and the high probability that most, if not all of us, will experience a loss through the death of a close blood relation, spouse, partner, friend, neighbour or work colleague, a person‟s grief can often be overlooked, especially in the workplace. This study sets out to explore what grief entails and how the experiences of bereaved individuals in the workplace in relation to the supports they receive and their unique grief responses can help employers understand and support their employees better. It is suggested that when an organisation is aware of the impact of grief on employees and promotes a culture of sensitivity and understanding to those bereaved that it can help employees to better come to terms with their grief. Eighteen female and nine male employees within a national organisation who were bereaved and who returned to the workplace following their loss completed a bespoke questionnaire. The findings provide insight into their unique experiences of the loss of a loved one; the responses and supports of their colleagues, managers and the organisation; and their grief reactions. It explores the impact of their loss in relation to social, financial and domestic elements and discovers what helped most and what helped least in facilitating them to come to terms with their loss. It is intended that the research will bring awareness to organisations of the impact of grief on individuals, and to inform „best practice‟ in policy development for organisations who wish to find more effective ways to support grieving employees.