When Tragedy Strikes: When You Lose an Employee Suddenly

While all of us plan to live to a ripe old age, we don’t always get what we want. The sudden loss of an employee through illness or accident can leave managers scrambling, uncertain what to do next.

Below are several steps you can take to help your staff and address business needs.

  1. Don’t hide what happened. Gather staff together to break the news, and give them some time to process and discuss it. You may wish to have information about grief counseling available for those who need it. When possible, have the person’s direct supervisor do this; the information is easier for everyone to process when it comes from workplace “family,” rather than an anonymous HR staff member.
  2. Reach out to your employee’s family. Ask the family about funeral arrangements, including whether they want their deceased loved one’s co-workers to attend. Pass any information about funeral arrangements or other services on to your staff so they can decide whether to go.
  3. Be flexible with time off. If employees need time off to attend grief counseling or to go to the funeral or memorial service, be flexible in providing this time. Allowing staff to process grief will help them return to their healthy, productive selves more quickly.
  4. Gather information on your financial and legal obligations. When the family member who dies suddenly was one of the household’s breadwinners, their remaining family members may turn to you, the employer, for information on last paychecks, medical benefits, life insurance, retirement benefits and other things. Collect this information promptly so you can provide it, and ensure you are complying with the law.
  5. Consider how to fill the open position. Unlike other job openings, a job opening due to a sudden death will need to be handled with extra discretion. Consider working with a staffing firm to find candidates and fill the position without burdening your grieving staff by asking for referrals or expecting them to review resumes.

At THE RIGHT STAFF, LLC, our Maple Grove recruiters can help you address a sudden gap in your workforce, so that you can focus on helping your current staff process the sudden loss. Contact us today to learn more.

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