The key to knowing what to do to help suicide-loss survivors in the workplace lies in creating a postvention bereavement policy. Since workplaces are faced with the challenge of dealing with suicide, guidelines need to be in place to manage the impact of suicide on leaders, management, and employees. As a suicide-loss survivor and bereavement specialist that focuses on suicide in the workplace, my aim is to provide readers with an overview of what a workplace needs to do beforehand in the event of a suicide. Key to these efforts lies in establishing a postvention organizational policy planning group and a postvention bereavement policy.
Postvention Organizational Policy Planning Group
An organizational planning group creates a strategic plan that includes a suicide-loss needs assessment that identifies grief-related problems of suicide-loss survivors through online surveys, phone calls, or written questionnaires. The group includes trained leaders, managers, supervisors, EAP practitioners, and human resource generalists who look at strengths and weakness and address any gaps in bereavement policies and procedures in relation to suicide-loss survivors.
Postvention Bereavement Policy
As noted, the focus of this three-part series is on creating a postvention bereavement policy, an organizational practice that allows suicide-loss survivors paid and unpaid time off. Three components of a postvention bereavement policy are:
* Bereavement leave policy statements;
* Bereavement allowance benefit verifications; and
* Internal notifications of a worker’s suicide.
The following is a brief look at each.
* Bereavement leave policy statements. Statements are simple proclamations in an employee handbook that identify a suicide-loss survivor’s bereavement allowance that usually ranges from one to five days. Organizational expressions of concern after a suicide are unique to the culture of the organization.
* Bereavement allowance benefit verifications. Benefit verifications are signed statements of employees confirming that the suicide of a family member. Employees contact their supervisors and/or HR to complete the allowance benefit and verify their recognizing the number of days allowed leave with and without pay.
* Internal notification of a worker’s suicide. After an employee’s suicide, an internal notification memo is sent to all employees. While respecting confidentiality and facts the family wants shared, the notification includes the employee’s full name and that he or she “died of suicide” or “died by suicide” Also included are funeral arrangements, services, an organizing group acknowledgment; and support systems.
All things considered, a workplace bereavement policy that focuses on suicide is the foundation for a compassionate workplace. By applying the information in this article – the first of three in this series – to any workplace, suicide-loss survivors will be emotionally supported, resulting in their improved well-being and increased overall productivity.
Barbara Rubel, MA, BCETS, CBS, is a professional speaker and trainer who speaks from personal experience. Her father, a retired New York City police officer, died by suicide while she was pregnant with triplets. Barbara is a leading authority and recognized author on suicide in the workplace. Her website can be found at: http://www.griefworkcenter.com. Editor’s note: This post is the first in a series.