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How Grief Affects the Bottom Line

28 April 2019 • Sarah Medcraf

When Simon Mander lost his wife in 2011, he hit rock bottom. As well as working full time for a tech company, he was his wife’s main carer. (NB all identifying details have been changed) He admitted: “After she died, my productivity dropped to a level I would call barely acceptable. I'd had the usual warnings. But frankly, none of them I really cared about. In fact, I didn’t care about anything because nothing at all felt important now that Donna had gone. At last, I finally ended up having a private chat with one of my managers about how I was feeling, and what had happened. He was very understanding and wished I had told him sooner. He said ‘we need to get you some help'." In agreement with Simon, this help turned out to be a work-sponsored fitness programme, and a series of private sessions to enable him to begin to come to terms with the many changes in his life. Both together helped him to accept his circumstances, and move forward. His productivity levels rose steadily once more as Simon began to feel more settled. He now runs before work in his local park as well as continuing to visit the gym. "I'm definitely a lot better than I was. I still miss my wife dreadfully, but overall I feel better in myself. I have a more positive outlook, and can see there will be a time when I will actually look forward to each day." A year later, he earned his first ever bonus. His employer has been on a journey, too. The head of personnel said that understanding the impact that bereavement has on co-workers is something all need to be aware of. Now, the company has a bereavement policy, which was compiled with the assistance of co-workers. They now also have a strategic business continuity plan in each department as to how to cope when a member of staff is bereaved and productivity is affected. Each individual has also received training in how to spot when someone may be struggling, whether as a result of bereavement or other mental health challenges. Overall, the company’s work in this area has increased the feeling of well-being amongst staff, and brought everyone together in their intention to continue to keep to high levels of productivity, while being compassionate, kind and caring with all concerned. What is a business continuity plan? Best kept as simple as possible, this plan states how a business can continue to operate should a disaster occur unexpectedly. In the instance above it was a death. But it could also for instance be a flood, fire, a prolonged power outage, or cyber attack. In fact, anything unexpected that causes the interruption of the company’s systems and way of working. A good plan will have systems ready to operate should a disaster occur and also on the minimization of downtime or other loss of productivity. Hopefully, of course, this will never be needed. But here’s one thing for sure – people do suffer bereavement. Whether it is a co-worker who one day no longer turns up for work and will never come back again; or it is a co-worker who has suffered a family bereavement, death has a place in life and the sooner we as business owners can accept that, the better. Statistics from The Grief Recovery Institute in America indicate that 85% of management level decision making was ranked from Very Poor to Fair in the weeks or months following a grief incident that affected them. 90% of those in physical jobs indicated a much higher incidence of physical injuries due to reduced concentration in the weeks of months following the grief incident. These figures are just a taste of how loss affects every area of life, including work. Unless you personally have suffered the loss of someone close to you, it is hard to understand just how discombobulating the effects of grief are, and the way in which this shows up. So how do you begin to tackle a subject that is so huge that hardly anyone wants to talk about at home, let alone at work? One way is to make it personal. Ask yourself the question: If I had died yesterday, what would be the effect on those around me at home, and at work? Not an easy one, but necessary all the same. Be brave, dig deep and admit to yourself what would likely happen at a practical level. Then find out how well-prepared you are for your own death, by taking the free quiz at This illustrates just a few of the things you need to be aware of at home – and it is MUCH more than just a will or power of attorney. Once you know about those, you can come back to your business, and focus in more depth, and in each area, on what would happen if you were not around. Bio: Author and coach Jane Duncan Rogers runs Before I Go Solutions, a social enterprise dedicated helping people prepare well for the best ending of life possible by completing their end of life plans. Having been in the field of psychotherapy and personal growth for more than 25 years, her latest book Before I Go: The Essential Guide to Creating A Good End of Life Plan came out last year. She moved to Forres in 2007, reconnecting with her family who originated in the Black Isle. She loves walking in the woods and by the sea.

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