Understanding grief and loss in the workplace at March Business Club

Understanding grief and loss in the workplace at March Business Club

Lamp’s March Business Club meeting looked at the often difficult topic of grief and loss. We were joined online by around 35 members.

Colin Fyfe, Chief Executive of Hinckley & Rugby Building Society and Chair of the Business Club introduced the topic before an update from Lamp Chief Executive, Richard Kotulecki, on Lamp’s aspirations for the year ahead.

Lamp update

Richard revealed that there has been an increase in the number of hours spent on each referral case received by Lamp in 2022, from six to eight hours. This is due to an increase in the complexity of the issues with which people are struggling.

To address this, Lamp aims to intervene earlier in the mental health pathway and equip people with self-advocacy skills. Richard also announced that Lamp will, for the first time in its history, extend its services to under 18s.

Richard explained that Business Club members are in a unique position because they have access to resources that can teach them how to pre-empower their staff to deal with everyday issues that can affect mental health.

Lamp aspires to increase Business Club membership from 54 to 100 this year to share the expertise wider so that more people are better equipped to face challenges. Richard called for every member to encourage one other person to join.

Richard also announced that the 2023 Lamp 5k challenge will be launched in March and will take place during Mental Health Awareness Week (15-21 May). He encouraged members to take part or support the campaign.

Topic: Bereavement

Colin Fyfe then addressed the group to talk about bereavement, its challenges for the individual and for others about how to treat that individual.

Those working with someone who has been bereaved can feel anxious about how to be around that person and Colin talked about a time when the business lost a valued work colleague very suddenly. There was initial shock and awkwardness, but talking about the person openly and celebrating their life helped, and the team created a tribute book and presented it to the family. The team talked about ways to remember the person they lost and created an annual award in his name.

Managers tried to tailor support for individuals as some were happy to share in a group while others preferred one-to-one talks. The issue of how and when to recruit to the person’s role was a difficult one and the team had to find a balance of respecting their memory and managing the ‘gap’.

We were then joined by Mark Winterflood of Hastings Direct who talked about the importance of giving people time and space to grieve and talk. Managers should consider adjustments that may be needed to support the bereaved person or team and have bereavement policies in place. At Hasting Direct, staff have access to an app and they also signpost to Lamp and occupational health providers.

Joseph Barsby of bereavement specialists and funeral directors, G Sellers, spoke next. He talked about empowering individuals to adjust to a ‘new normal’ and said that this can pose significant challenges in the workplace. They have developed educational packs and deliver workshops to help businesses create bereavement policies. Leaders and managers of a bereaved person should ask what they need from the company, actively listen, show empathy and shouldn’t avoid talking to them. Joseph reflected on a quote form Maya Angelou who said that ‘while people may forget what you said, they will never forget how you made them feel’.

We ended the meeting with breakout sessions where members had the chance to talk about ideas for bereavement policies and learn about other resources including G Sellers’ podcast, Lifting the Lid.

The next Lamp Business Club meeting will be held at Winstanley House in Leicester from 12-2pm on 17 May 2023.

Find out more about the Lamp Business Club




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