May 24, 2022

“Good Grief,” Says Charlie Brown

By Paul Bieber

In the cartoon world, the animated character Charlie Brown walks around and says “Good grief” at least once in every show. That’s his trademark saying. Unfortunately, there is and never has been good grief. This does affect each and every company in the world, including our glass industry in North America.

Whenever someone passes away, other people, are emotionally affected. Grief, upon a death, causes relatives and friends to be upset, uncomfortable and self-realizing that death may be around the corner.

It is inevitable that someone within your employee ranks will have a grief situation yearly. You give a couple of days off and expect the employee to come back to work, full-time, and continue like before. It doesn’t happen that way. It just doesn’t. People grieve very differently. Different religious faiths have different protocols for burial. Sometimes in the northern climates, when the ground is frozen over, a casket can’t be buried until a spring-time thaw. Employees may need to travel to be with their families in the home area of the deceased.

Most companies give a three- or five-day death leave for close relatives and a one-day death leave for others. Some companies make employees use vacation time for burials. I can tell you that a company that does use vacation time in this instance will not have happy employees. If this is you, your employees, upon coming home and letting the grief flow over them, will start looking for a job as soon as they are able.

But this blog is about the employees who stay with you. They will not be working at 100% for a month or two. If there are legal scenarios they must attend to or house sales to manage, their focus will not be on the job. Accept it and give your employee plenty of leeways, especially if they are the surviving child of parents who have passed on.

What could be worse? Losing a child. We expect our parents to die before us. Maybe even older brothers and sisters, but losing a child, for any reason, will have an extraordinarily negative impact on anyone, and that impact will translate to poor outcomes at work. There is a medical specialty called grief counseling. Make sure your insurance covers this specialty. Let your employees know that this is a covered benefit of your package. Upon a death, have a private discussion with your employee and again mention this counseling is part of your benefits package. The strongest and most stable person will need this help in many situations.

There are hundreds of books available on grief management. This short blog is here to teach our glass industry that grief is a state of mind that cannot be fixed in three days. Allow for this when a grief situation comes about in your organization.