When personal tragedy occurs, everything else happening in one’s life seems to lose significance. It’s only rational that when something tragic occurs in the life of one of your employees, his ability to concentrate on work is going to be affected for some time. People deal with tragedy in very different ways – some may prefer being in solitude while others prefer the company of friends. So showing the appropriate signs of compassion for a grieving individual may not be easy but it’s important to show that you care in some way. Here are some pieces of advice to help you console an employee recently affected by tragedy.
One of the best ways of displaying compassion for a grief-stricken employee is to see him not as an employee but as a friend and a human being. This could mean adding a vacation day to the person’s schedule or attending the funeral of his loved one, even if you’ve never met that person. Doing so will prove to your employee that you realize there are matters that take precedence over work sometimes and that this is ok. Your employee is sure to appreciate this sign of support.
Don’t be afraid to ask employees what they need to do to clear their minds. Respect their wishes and understand that if one employee asks for more time off than another to deal with a personal crisis, this does not make that employee better or worse than the other. You should expect that the lengths of your employees’ grieving periods will vary.
In some instances, an employee may not want to tell anyone about a crisis, especially if it involves very personal matters. For this reason, it could be very beneficial for your company to sign onto an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). EAPs provide employees with a toll-free number to contact a counselor or a legal expert for advice. These programs are ideal in that they are inexpensive and they allow your employees to deal with personal issues through confidential means.
The reality is that every person is unique and everyone responds to tragedy differently. Finding the right words and actions to comfort a grieving employee may be difficult. But as long as you demonstrate the principle that your employees are human beings first and workers second, you will find that you have provided your lamenting employee with much-needed emotional support.