How To Deal With The Death Of An Employee

Co-workers can be greatly affected by the passing of a colleague, this article provides tips so you know How To Deal With The Death Of An Employee. If you think about it, we spend around 40 hours a week in the same office as our colleagues. Over time, we get to know them as individuals and even get to know their families. Colleagues almost become like a second family, one that you may sometimes see more of than your own family. So, what happens when one of them suddenly passes away? How do you support your employees to help them get through this rough time when you are grieving yourself? While there is no step-by-step procedure, taking the following actions can help employees begin to deal with the death of a colleague.


Many employees who are grieving often need to “talk it out.” Make sure you are available to employees who need to talk about their feelings. This can also be done in a group format. Make these gatherings available to anyone who wishes to attend. Ensure all details of funeral services are communicated to employees, along with any donation requests or the wishes of the family.

Show your Support

It is important that your employees understand you are aware of their loss and you are there to help them through it. This may mean making exceptions to rules—for example, allowing employees to use bereavement leave during this time, even if it is usually reserved for immediate family only. Another way to show support is to allow anyone who wishes to attend the funeral to do so, even if it is more than the typical number of absences you would allow, with the understanding that this may briefly affect work. Also, you may wish to make a donation to the family or host a collection and match employee donations.

Identify Those Who May Need Extra Help

Inevitably, there will be employees who had a close connection with the deceased employee. Reach out to these individuals and offer additional resources and support, such as additional grief counselling or time off. Consider engaging these employees in an act of remembrance—for example, allow them to lead an activity such as planting a garden or dedicating an office or conference room to the employee’s memory.

Moving On

You need to think about who will be taking on the role of the deceased employee. In the period between recruiting a new person to fill the role, other employees may need to share the workload out. This is where it is important to have job descriptions to help you divide up the duties to the appropriate people.

Be sensitive regarding a replacement. Recovering from such a loss will take time, and you should be prepared to move slower than usual when it comes to finding a replacement for the deceased employee. I recommend waiting until business has returned to normal before beginning a new search and then let your workforce know that you are going to start looking for a replacement. The employee moving into this position should be well informed of what has happened, and you should recognise that the new employee may have a rockier start than others.

Remember to follow up with life insurance policies and death benefits. The family will be very overwhelmed and may forget that you had a life insurance policy. Help them out by giving them all the necessary information.

Also, don’t forget about people outside of your office that may be affected by the death of your employee. If your employee worked with clients or suppliers, it is important that you issue a statement to them to avoid rumours or uncertainty. Those other businesses may need to grieve as well. They also may want to contribute to a donation or a memory fund so make sure to pass along all of the funeral information.

Remember to take the time to appreciate your employees.

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How To Deal With The Death Of An Employee


Kathryn is a highly experienced HR Manager with a wealth of skills and knowledge acquired across a variety of industries including manufacturing, health and social care and financial services. She has worked in small localised business and larger multi sited organisations and is comfortable liaising with senior managers and union officials as well as answering queries from team members. Connect with Kathryn on:

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