Perhaps the most difficult element in a practical sense is the person's work. It may well be that the team were already covering elements of the work if the person was unwell long-term, but you need to be very careful not to jump into a 'doing mode' where you distribute work. That said, of course, there will still need to be changes made in the team to make sure that things are covered off when you can. Be sensitive - this is not a time for quick messages. Talk to managers about what work needs to be done and the priorities.
If might be, adds Joshi, that you need to recruit temporary staff or turn to freelancers in order to manage the workload and simultaneously give the team time to grieve and adapt to what's happened.
Joshi says: "There will also be practical considerations. HR should work with managers to redistribute the deceased colleague's workload among the team or temporarily hire temporary staff to fill the gap, ensuring that employees are not overwhelmed with additional responsibilities at a challenging time. Desks should be cleared so they do not act as a reminder. Death of a colleague can also lead to a lot of anxiety about who will fill in their place especially if this person was a leader, and the leadership and management may need to provide reassurance to especially those closely working with this person.
When all of the above is considered, it's also important to think about the longer term impact of the loss and how you'll honour the memory of the person who has died
When all of the above is considered, it's also important to think about the longer term impact of the loss and how you'll honour the memory of the person who has died.
The best way to begin that process is to consult with staff - would they like to raise money for a particular charity in the person's memory, for example? They might wish for a memorial service at work or with colleagues, in addition to any other services. And they might want a memorial or plaque considered in memory of the person.
Joshi adds: "And this is an ongoing thing. HR should continue to check in with employees in the weeks and months following the colleague's death to ensure that they are coping well and receiving the necessary support. There is no right or wrong way to experience grief or any defined time duration to get over it, so ensure HR managers are sensitive and flexible about this."
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