Thought Leadership

Why Grief Leadership Is Important For Your Employee’s Mental Health

Whether it’s natural disasters, global pandemics, or personal grievances; loss is something that has a profound effect on the way a person functions. Recovery following the wake of tragedy is never easy, especially when you have all but a few days to pull yourself back together before the 9-5 grind comes knocking on your door once again.

The impact of grief on businesses is something that has been felt since time immemorial, and naturally so. A study by The Grief Recovery Institute estimated that grief costs businesses up to 75 billion dollars a year, but the effect it has on employees can be far worse. When the whole world entered a sudden period of collective loss during the first wave of the pandemic, the isolation and inability to properly grieve, prolonged people’s loss and deteriorated the state of their mental health.

The importance of a strong, compassionate and good leader to help alleviate the effects of traumatic events in the lives of employees is undeniable. As a manager or CEO, the employees in your company look up to you for guidance and support, and that is why it is important to communicate that you are there to help in whatever manner needed. Here are a few ways to guide you through the process of grief leadership.


  1. Personal Mental Health Checks

The weight of taking care of your team members is a burden that every team leader or manager bears, and that is exactly why self-care is so vital. In fact, studies have shown that if a leader doesn’t cope with stress in a healthy manner, it can have a major impact on the way employees do the same. In order to help others, you must help yourself first. You can peer into your mental state and figure out methods to help you feel better through the online mental health assessments provided by Psychology Today or the University of Washington.

  1. Talk To Your Employees

Try as they may, your employees cannot switch off the effects of grief when they are at work. This is why nurturing a compassionate environment that encourages them to speak about their struggles is important. In 2018, following the tragic suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins wrote an open email about mental health to all his employees. Little did he know the profound effect it would have on the thousands of employees who read it, most replying back with notes of their own. When leaders open up the path for communication, employees feel more confident in sharing their struggles.

  1. Paid Time Off

With the cost of living and inflation increasing each year, most employees can’t afford to take time off in order to care for their mental health. Depression and anxiety often caused due to bereavement are often neglected, which in turn worsens their mental health and can cost the global economy nearly $1 trillion per year. According to WHO, every $1 that a company spends treating common mental health concerns gives way to a $4 return in improved health and productivity. This is exactly why companies such as Nike, Hootsuite, Bumble, Google and LinkedIn provided employees with extra time off to recuperate and take care of their mental health.

Grief is something that we have all felt at some point in time. Heartbreak, divorce, financial loss, illness, death are some of the many things that can cause grief to manifest. Creating a supportive environment helps your employees know that they are not alone, and encourages them during their journey of recovery. To conclude, as Earl Grollman once said, “Grief is not a disorder, a disease or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve.”