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MENTOR - TOP TIPS

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How to...handle bereavement at work...
How to...handle bereavement at work

When a close colleague is injured or dies, it can be difficult to strike the right balance between responding appropriately to team members' shock and distress and meeting the continued demands of the service.

Imogen Haslam, adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, says: 'There can be additional complications when the bereavement is a colleague, particularly if it is an unexpected death such as in a car or train accident. This can impact on morale.

'The most important thing for an employer is to be sympathetic about the knock-on effects of bereavement, and understand that sometimes people may find it difficult to concentrate on their work, or may question the point of being committed to their work.'

In such situations, Ms Haslam recommends use of employee assistance programmes - teams of independent counsellors that provide confidential counselling services on a range of issues.

She says: 'However sympathetic an employer/line manager is, there are occasions where a trained counsellor is needed. It may also be important for employees to speak to someone who is not directly involved in the organisation.'

Typically, employee assistance programmes provide:

>> Immediate access to experienced counsellors over the phone

>> Telephone access 24 hours a day, seven days a week

>> The opportunity to talk in confidence from work or home

>> Anonymity of the caller if desired

>> Support services

>> Face-to-face counselling services.

Ms Haslam says employers can also help by organising an event for the deceased colleague.

She says: 'A funeral is important when coming to terms with a [death], but it may not be practical or appropriate for large numbers of staff to attend. Perhaps a separate event can be organised for colleagues.'

www.employeeassistance

programme.com

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