What to Do Following An Employee Death

Most people live with the hope of retiring and living their best lives after they’ve exited their career. Unfortunately, not everyone gets that chance. Some individuals pass away before their time, leaving family, friends, managers, and coworkers grieving in the aftermath.

If your employee passes away, there are several things you should do to deliver the news, delegate work to other team members, and close out accounts. Aside from the internal logistics, though, there are some other steps you’ll need to take after an employee has died. 

Tell Your Staff 

There are a few different ways you can approach telling your staff that their coworker has passed away. You could opt to deliver the news by phone or email, but it’s best to tell them in person whenever possible. 

employee death

It’s also important to share the news when you have everyone’s attention. It’s difficult to do this if you can’t get everyone on the phone, or if some staff members miss an email coming through. Having everyone in the same room is best, as you’re more likely to have all eyes on you. 

Let Your Staff Know How They May Be Impacted

The next step is to let staff members know how their coworker’s passing is going to impact them. Some employees won’t be impacted at all in terms of day-to-day logistical work, but some will have more work on their plates for the time being. Try not to overwhelm them, but let them know that they may have extra tasks to take care of in the following days. 

employee death

Next, work with each team member one-on-one to make sure they understand the additional tasks they’ll need to perform. This will require extra time, effort, and attention on your part, but it will keep your business operations moving as they should. 

Give Your Staff Time to Process 

Just as you gathered your staff and let them know what to expect, you should also expect them to be distracted. Dealing with the loss of someone close impacts everyone in different ways. Expect some of your employees to throw themselves into work to avoid thinking about it too much, while others will struggle with productivity. 

employee death

The loss of someone they have worked with —or even next to —for months or years can hit incredibly hard. Let your staff know it’s okay for them to take a long lunch break or a personal day if needed. Additionally, remind your staff about any mental health services that your business’s health plan offers. 

Do Something in Honor of the Deceased 

Plan a way for your team to do something together in honor of their deceased coworker. This will help your grieving team find closure in their coworker’s loss. Light a rememberance candle, share memories about your staff member who has died, plant a tree, have a custom memorial bench placed on the premises in their honor, or even invite everyone out for a happy hour to spend some time together.

employee death  

These activities are meant to give your team a chance to come to terms with what has happened. If the family is holding a memorial and wants coworkers to attend, share that information with your team, too.

Send a Gift to the Employee’s Family 

Next, bring your team together to send a gift to the employee’s grieving family. Coming together as a team to help comfort their family will also bring you closer to one another. Take a vote to decide what to gift the family, then take up donations to cover the cost. 

employee death

Some comforting gift choices for grieving families include:

Whatever you choose, your gesture of support will offer comfort to your employee’s loved ones in their time of loss.

Final Thoughts 

It’s never easy to say goodbye to someone you care about. If your staff is grieving the loss of a coworker: 

  • Be fully present to support them
  • Tell them the news with compassion, empathy, and patience
  • Let them know how the loss will impact their daily work
  • Give them time to process the loss
  • Engage in a team activity to remember your employee
  • Send a gift to the employee’s grieving family

If you're looking for additional ideas for memorial gifts for an employee's family or even something to have in-office in honor of the loved one who has passed, you can browse our entire line of products suitable to employee loss here. And we truly are so sorry for your loss

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