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For most business owners and leaders, the impact of an employee dealing with grief due to the death of a loved one is a difficult yet real concept. Leaders have likely dealt with employees who have lost loved ones, or even experienced their own personal loss. However, the pandemic, and the resulting surge in deaths – 1.1 million as of April 2023 – have put a spotlight on employee-related loss and company bereavement policies.

Employees are experiencing a heightened level of work-related anxiety caused by the lasting effects of COVID-19. So, when a death is experienced on top of already fragile psyches, it can lead to negative outcomes both personally and professionally, which ultimately impacts a business’s bottom line.

Productivity, Mental Health Suffers

Employees have resigned in huge numbers as a result of burnout, stress and the lack of work-life balance. What’s more, employees experiencing grief process higher levels of daily stress than normal, which can result in poor decision making, substance misuse and increased risk of injury. This inability to perform workplace duties costs U.S. employers more than $75 billion annually.

Beyond the mental impact of personal loss, employees are physically absent from work, too, leading to lower productivity. According to a recent study, more than 9 in 10 employees either take time off work or adjust their work commitments to deal with the loss of a loved one, while 76% of bereaved employees’ overall performance at work was harmed.

The Challenge with Bereavement Policies

When it comes to paid time off and employee leave, business owners are caught in an intricate balancing act. They have to take local and federal laws into account, while also considering the financial impact on their business. Adding to that is the need to consider the mental and emotional well-being of their employees, who must grieve sufficiently before returning to work – and to a productive state of mind.

Bereavement leave policies typically give employees one to five days off, based on the expected timeframe for planning a funeral. However, two-thirds of employees took more time off than the number of days they spent planning the funeral, suggesting that existing bereavement leave policies are insufficient.

Having a Positive Impact

While work needs to be done when it comes to bereavement policies, businesses can still find ways to show their compassion for employees who are experiencing grief. It’s not only the right thing to do, but it positively impacts business. When employees feel cared for, they are 60% more likely to remain at a company for three or more years, and 90% of these employees are more likely to suggest their company as an exceptional place to work to others.

Business owners who understand the true impact of death on their business and adjust their policies – and communication – to allow for and accept the need to mourn, will be better off from a morale, productivity and financial perspective.


After experiencing the personal loss of grandparents and seeing friends confront loss in their own lives, the team came to an important realization- there was no single resource on the web that provided trusted information on understanding grief and bereavement, or guidance on how to cope with loss and how to comfort loved ones who are mourning. eCondolence was created to be that single resource. Learn more.

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