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How compassionate is your company?

This week is National Grief Awareness Week, an important time to reflect and open up the conversation around grief, so we can support friends, family, or colleagues who may be experiencing it. But have you considered how grief might affect your employees?

Bereavement will affect us all in our working lives, with events like the Covid-19 pandemic bringing this sharply into focus. To put that in perspective, the UK Commission on Bereavement estimated that there have been an additional 750,000 bereavements as a result of the pandemic.

Supporting bereavement:

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Research conducted by Compassionate Employers, a workplace support programme from Hospice UK, showed that 57% of employees have experienced a bereavement in the last five years.

National Grief Awareness Week is a great starting point for having this conversation in your workplace and working towards a compassionate culture at work.

But being a compassionate employer isn’t just the right thing to do to support your employees, it helps your company flourish too.

Compassionate Employers’ data shows that the way organisations support employees through grief has a huge impact on retention, with 77% of 18-34 year olds saying they would consider leaving their job if they did not get proper support when bereaved.

Addressing this need for support should be one of the HR sector’s biggest priorities heading into 2023, and this National Grief Awareness Week, we want to give you the support you need to tackle it.

Is your company a compassionate employer?

Often, it is only when a colleague has died, or an employee goes through a bereavement that organisations realise this is something they’ve not prepared for.

Organisations realise that they need to update their policies, have compassionate conversations and share sensitive information internally – this is when they reach out to us.

We know how much is asked of HR teams, so we offer the resources and guidance needed to look after your employees.

The programme provides help with bereavement policies and compassionate leave, guidance on how to have compassionate conversations and advice on how to support line managers who have bereavements in their teams.

Why now?

National Grief Awareness Week is a great opportunity to get people and organisations talking about grief at work.

The workplace has seen huge improvements around mental wellbeing and women’s health in recent years, thanks to open conversations and organisations who are willing to do the work.

Talking about death is one of society’s last taboos, but if companies can create a culture that normalises discussion of grief then we could see huge improvements in this area too.

National Grief Awareness Week could provide the moment for you to open up this conversation in your workplace. By creating a culture where employees can share their experiences of grief and how it has affected them, you create a space where this is normalised for others.

It’s also a great opportunity to promote your employee assistance programme and any other support mechanisms you have in place for staff.

For National Grief Awareness Week we’re offering a free compassionate employer health check, so you can find out what you’re doing right, and what more you could do to do create a supportive culture in your workplace.

We’re also running a free webinar on Tuesday 6 December, and offering Compassionate Employers members tailored lunch and learn sessions, a members’ forum, and resources on our members’ hub.

Together we can change the workplace for the better. Normalising discussion of grief plays a huge part of creating a compassionate culture at work, and National Grief Awareness Week can help you kick-start change in your workplace.

Paul Fraser is head of workplace support programmes at Hospice UK