Employers are failing to adequately support grieving employees at work, with one in seven people (15%) not offered any help at all following a bereavement.
The study by MetLife UK also revealed that one in 10 (10%) people only had the option of taking unpaid leave following the loss of a loved one, while a similar percentage (11%) received a minimal amount of time off equating to up to three days.
The Last Word report further found that while support is either inconsistent or non-existent, almost one in three (32%) respondents would value paid leave the most following a bereavement.
Nearly one in five (19%) said colleague support would be appreciated, while 12% just wanted the option of unpaid leave.
Some workers (17%) wanted as much time off as needed, with the same percentage valuing regular check-ins with their employer.
Only around 15% said their organisation was very supportive, allowing them to have as much leave as needed. A further 12% had regular check-ins with their employer, while 8% were offered extra support such as counselling.
Adrian Matthews, head of Employee Benefits at MetLife UK, said: “The passing of a loved one can be deeply distressing. And unfortunately, everyone will experience a loss at some point in their lives. Our research found that more than a third of UK adults have experienced a bereavement in the last two years. With grief it is an intensely personal experience and will affect each person differently, and there’s no right or wrong way to mourn.
“While there is little that can be done to reduce the grief of loss itself, our research shows there are a number of tangible ways employers can help lessen the stress and pain. What is evident is that employees would value time off to be able to grieve without the worry of work. When the time comes, employers will generate staff loyalty by supporting them through this difficult time. Taking action to equip people with additional emotional and practical resources – whether that’s in or out the workplace is vitally important.”
He added: “Alleviating some of that emotional toll when dealing with loss by helping with the practical, allows people more time to grieve.”
Mark Wood, chairman of Everest UK, which teamed up with MetLife to enable its provision of funeral concierge services, commented: “These findings illustrate the immense challenges that face both grieving individuals in the workplace and their employers struggling to offer them the right support. It is striking to see that there is a lack of clarity and understanding around the needs of bereaved employees, which includes more logistical support and guidance from employers rather than just standard ‘one-size-fits-all’ policies. Part of the issue is a void of communication around the subject of death between employees and employers. A first step would be to allow for, and encourage, safe conversations with employers about one’s needs – whether that means paid time off, extended leave, help groups, mental health services or other kinds of bereavement support.”