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Grief and Loss: Information for Supervisors and Managers

Find suggestions how to support your staff during times of grief and loss.

As a supervisor or manager, you may find it difficult to balance the need to get a job done with the desire to support your staff. The following suggestions may be helpful.

  • Clarify your role as a supervisor; you can't make grief go away and you can't make an employee "snap out of it." You can provide an environment where the process of healing is encouraged.
  • Understand that most people do not have the opportunity or the financial means of taking an extended leave of absence. Most people keep on working while they are putting their lives back together. Finding energy to do both can be a challenge.
  • Request organizational support from administration and personal support from the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program. Anticipate dealing with grief reactions for many months. Watch for signs of acute grief reactions — physical changes, deepening isolation, emotions that are consuming or unmanageable — that may warrant professional intervention.
  • Set an example for others in the workplace. Your caring and your professionalism set the workplace standard.
  • Offer specific help. Many grieving people are too tired or too numb to know what they need.
  • Expect to hear the story of the employee's loss over and over again. The Faculty and Staff Assistance program can be helpful in supporting you in this difficult supervisory role, or in redirecting the employee's need to have someone to listen.
  • Acknowledge the strain on co-workers who take on additional workloads while coping with their own feelings. Let them know that you are concerned for them too.

Next: Information for Co-Workers