Helping Employees with Grief

Posted by Christina Uplinger on August 23, 2017

A goal in school is development of one’s professional self. This means gaining the skills and knowledge required to be a successful team member in one’s career. As students generate subject matter research, complete special certifications, and participate in extra circular activities, they add these achievements to their resumes and/or LinkedIn profiles to build their credentials, preparing themselves for their future employment.

That works for the professional side of our lives but what about the personal side? What about our ability to connect with others in our field, our ability to have meaningful connections with coworkers, and our ability to exhibit compassion?

When a disruptive event occurs, such as the death of a coworker or a reduction in workforce that leaves many of our work friends unemployed, our personal connections are impacted more than our professional connections. We feel a sense of grief around this event, both for ourselves and our coworkers. Yet few companies are prepared to help employees deal with this grief, expecting employees to handle very emotional incidences in a setting that asks them to present their most poised and prepared self.

R3 Continuum can help with managing disruptive events through support services like TeleReach. Employers can provide this service to grieving employees, allowing them to connect with a third party. Through three individualized calls, a listening and empathetic clinician will support the employee through this time of distress. In the two months I have spent at R3 continuum as a social work intern, I can hear the difference this service makes in an employee’s life. As one employee stated, “That first call lifted the weight from my shoulders.”

Disruptive events occur in all industries and impact employees at every level. When such an event occurs, it can make us distrust our employer and leave us feeling insecure and vulnerable. The TeleReach support services offer employees normalization and validation of their emotions. Of equal importance is that it lets employees know that they can expect to be supported and cared for during a time of crisis, now and in the future.

As a graduate student in my last year of school, my life consists of tweaking my resume, adding additional areas of knowledge and experience. Through my time at R3 Continuum, I’ve learned that the work one does is not solely for the development of one’s professional self – adding credentials to a resume. We also work on the personal side of our professional career, giving and receiving support. I’ve seen how support services, such as TeleReach, create a space for employees to understand this impact and help “lift the weight from [their] shoulders” as they try to make sense of disruptive events.

About the Author: Christina Uplinger grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan and went to Grand Valley State University for her undergraduate degree in anthropology and sociology. Christina has worked in the adoption field for the past three and a half years. She enjoys both direct work with clients as well as bigger picture organizational structure and policy. She is currently back at Grand Valley State pursuing her dual master’s degree in social work and public administration. As part of her masters she is interning in the Productivity Assurance Call Center (PACC) at R3 Continuum over the next year.