9 Ways Managers can Support an Employee Beyond Bereavement Leave

Grief doesn't end when bereavement leave does. There are several things you can do, as management, to facilitate an easier transition back into the work environment for a grieving employee.

When approximately 25% of an average workforce is experiencing a loss of life of a colleague, friend and/or family member, it’s critical that managers and employers understand how to best support their team. While dedicated support programs and support offerings are in place for fertility, maternity, and parental care, there tends to be little to no support for bereavement leave.

As a manager, you can take these nine actions to support an employee who has lost a loved one:


Before bereavement leave
  • Inform HR, understand what company benefits and leave policies are in place

First, notify human resources personnel — they will facilitate the employee’s bereavement leave. You can also communicate with the employee about the company’s bereavement leave policy and any other applicable policies like Family Medical Leave Act, health insurance benefits, short-term and long-term disability applications, or life insurance. Depending on the circumstances, it may be helpful to serve as an intermediary between the employee and HR representative.

  • Consider religious, cultural, and geographical needs

Discuss any necessary religious requirements with the employee. Respectfully accommodate any religious requirements or customs regarding the loss of a loved one when appropriate.

  • Redistribute current responsibilities 

Meet with your staff to discuss what needs to be done in their co-worker's absence and how to best redistribute their current responsibilities.

During bereavement leave
  • Extend your condolences, lead with compassion

Acknowledge your employee’s loss and offer genuine sympathy. Let the employee know they have your support and relieve them of any work responsibilities for the time being.

  • Consider sending a meaningful care package

Sending a meaningful care package can be both helpful for the recipient during this time and express your ongoing commitment to the overall wellbeing of your team.

  • Create a return-to-work plan

Creating a plan with the employee can ease the process of returning to work. Discuss how you can support their return to the office with flexible work options like a hybrid return or the ability to work from home, reduced hours, delegating some of their responsibilities, or time off when necessary.

After bereavement leave
  • Check in consistently to see how they are doing both personally and professionally

Stay in contact or check in with the employee during their first few days back at work to ensure they are receiving the support they need. 

  • Find out how your employee would like to be supported 

Everyone grieves differently — find out how the individual employee would like to be supported during this time. Would they prefer to have their loss acknowledged in the workplace or have no mention of it? Would they be okay with coworkers contacting them with their condolences? Would flexible work options like a hybrid return or working from home, reduced hours, or lessened responsibilities for the time being be helpful when returning to work?

  • Offer counseling or other resources available 

Discuss available benefits and employee assistance programs with the employee and offer counseling or other support as needed.

Making a preemptive attempt to understand the needs of your employees is the best way to ensure you and your staff are prepared to address grief in the workplace. Creating a bereavement leave policy, offering grief support training, helping employees access grief counseling, and providing a quiet place for employees to take a break and destress are all practical ways to support employees before, during, and after bereavement leave. Having a  comprehensive plan to address grief in the workplace creates a sense of stability for employees and demonstrates an ongoing commitment to the wellbeing of your team.

Management and Human Resources should be accessible, knowledgeable, and supportive when employees experience a personal tragedy, and with Betterleave, they can be. Our team of benefit experts and bereavement coordinators help you support your employees during their time of need. See how we can transform your company for the better, together.

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