How to Deal with Death in Workplace?

How to Deal with Death in Workplace?

When Remarkable companies care they implement Remarkable solutions.

One of the toughest battles to face in professional life is hearing the news of the passing of a colleague. Coping with a colleague’s death is neither something that we are prepared for nor something that we are coached on in our professional training. It gets tougher when as a leader you need to share the news with your entire team and provide them with support.

No matter if you were close to that colleague or not, after their death, something is going to break inside you while passing through their desk, seeing their handwritten notes, or their absence at company events.

During the pandemic, like any other organization, Etech experienced collective grief of losing many team members. We were not prepared for the grief, challenges, and hollowness that followed the death of those team members. It took time for us to build coping mechanisms as well as strategies to deal with their death.

Blog Covid, one of my dear friends at work reached out to me for help, he was drowning, and all he wanted was to talk and share what he was going through. We met each other for pancakes, shared our coping mechanisms, and named it “Pancakes with Purpose.”

Pancakes with Purpose led us to our “Lean on Me” program. A program designed for guidance and support in case the death of an employee occurs. This includes important aspects of dealing with death in the workplace, including understanding the difficulty of the situation, the role of human resources, the importance of effective communication, balancing heart and mind leadership, and using employee assistance programs as well as other resources HR provides.

Furthermore, our servant leadership culture, along with key character commitments such as Humility, Communication, Valuing People, Courage, and Positive Influence, has significantly bolstered our ‘Lean on Me’ program. Etech’s character commitments and servant-led culture have positioned us to introduce programs like “Lean on Me,” allowing us to make a remarkable difference for one another in both good and challenging times, thereby eliminating situations that can sometimes lead to isolation.

“Sometimes in our lives

We all have pain

We all have sorrow

But if we are wise

We know that there’s always tomorrow

Lean on me
When you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on…”

Credits: The name of our “Lean on Me” program is inspired by the song “” by Bill Withers.

How to Deal When Death Occurs at Work?

When a death occurs at work, it is a deeply sensitive situation that requires immediate and compassionate handling. If you come across such a situation at work, contact emergency services and notify human resources.

Ensure the incident is reported to the legal authorities on time and create a comfortable environment for the witnesses to give their statements. If you are a leader, then you must communicate this news to the other team members by being direct yet empathetic. Extend support to the team members who have witnessed the incident and were affected by it.

How to Deal When Death Occurs Outside the Workplace?

When you receive the news about the passing away of your colleague outside the workplace, the first thing to do is inform human resources and executives and share the source of the information.

If you are a leader, your role in communicating the news of the death of a colleague to team members is one of great sensitivity, compassion, and responsibility. It is one of the most delicate and difficult tasks that requires careful consideration and execution.

What Are the Steps an Organization Can Take on Passing of a Team Member?

An organization should handle the situation of the passing away of a team member with compassion, sensitivity, and professionalism. Here, organizations cannot be completely emotional or practical, they need to find a balance between both. Here are some steps an organization can take in such grim times:

1. Respond Immediately

When a team member passes away, the organization needs to respond immediately. Notify the immediate team members and colleagues of the passing in a sensitive manner. This can be done through a meeting or email. Seek human resources guidance on whether they will handle the communication or suggest it be the immediate leader.

Provide counseling or support services to employees who are deeply affected by the loss. This could include counseling, flexible work arrangements, or other accommodation. At Etech, we have a “Lean on Me” support program for such challenging times.

2. Communicate

Communication plays a key role in such difficult situations. Consider the appropriate audience to notify about the loss. Depending on the size of the organization, the team member’s role and level of interaction across the organization, it might be best to notify the entire organization or only specific teams.

Ensure that the information is shared appropriately and sensitively with everyone. Also, communicate any immediate changes in team responsibilities and timelines to ensure business continuity.

3. Provide Support to the Deceased’s Family

When an organization loses a team member, there is also a family that lost a loved one. Reach out to the family to offer condolences and support. Offer support with memorial services and funeral arrangements. Ensure all dues of the deceased are cleared quickly and paid to the family.

It is imperative to follow the organization’s HR guidance regarding reaching out directly to the family in order to minimize confusion and not unintentionally inundate them, despite having the best of intentions.

Every situation is unique, and this is why organizations need to be flexible and responsive to the needs of the affected team members, leaders, friends, and family members.

Grief has no timeline, and there will be different reactions from team members because everyone processes grief differently. Be each other’s support, proceed with empathy, and keep communicating.

When Etech says we care, we do! Our actions speak louder than our words, demonstrating our foundational culture as SERVANT Leaders. We appreciate the vision of our president and CEO for casting this vision and encouraging us to implement creative solutions for each other, our customers, and within our communities.

Etech is not only innovative in our technological solutions, but we are also innovative in all matters of the heart. Reach out to Melissa, to learn more about our “Lean on Me” program!

Melissa Wood

Melissa Wood

With over 20 years of leadership experience Melissa spearheads all learning and development business-building programs for Etech. A multi-national outsourcing organization with over 2,800 employees that provides world class services to Fortune 500 companies from its locations in the US, Jamaica and India. As an expert- advisor in talent related strategies she has the strategic role in aligning an integrated Leadership Development strategy with the company’s mission and objectives through collaboration with key stakeholders.

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