A very real part of life that we will all experience at some stage is family bereavement. We can only hope to have the support we need surrounding what can be a deeply traumatic time for you and your family.
In my experience, I had the added complication of needing to travel to Europe from New Zealand. Not a trip you can do over a long weekend (or the 3 days that our the standard bereavement benefit offers us). This meant an unexpected and extended time away from work at an extremely business critical time (when isn’t it?).
How did I and the business cope?
We just did. But what was different for me, was that I was able to take the time I needed. There was never a question of time – ‘Just do what you need to do’. This went a long way to dealing with what was in front of me.
Legally and in my experience, this is not commonplace. In New Zealand, we are legally entitled to 3 days bereavement leave when suffering from a bereavement. Now I’m not saying that there aren’t many businesses that don’t go above and beyond here, but there are plenty who stick to this, or to a combination of leave types.
How can make the bereavement benefit an actual, real benefit?
Talk. Many years ago, I remember an employee saying to me to she simply wasn’t ready to come back to work after a bereavement. She didn’t express this at the time. No one asked. The result was a struggling employee and most likely lower productivity. It’s a tough topic, but worth taking the leap to support those around you.
Be Creative, yet Real. When architecting this bene
fit, get creative. This is an area that impacts everyone at some stage. Think about how you can offer a benefit that employees can easily use when they need it most.
Ongoing Support. It’s tempting to leave people to ‘deal’ with things themselves. When they return to work, they are definitely still dealing with a lot. What can we put in place to help them find their new normal?
Taking some time to think this through, making your bereavement leave a real benefit to your employees will undoubtedly enhance individual and organizational wellbeing.