good life, good death, good grief

Scottish Compassionate Communities Toolkit

Supportive workplaces

Workplaces are communities. Many people spend a significant proportion of their lives at work, spending more time with work colleagues than with family and friends.

A compassionate workplace is one where employees feel supported through the ups and downs of life by colleagues, managers and institutional procedures.

Support provided by a workplace can come in many guises. Some is formally structured into the policies and procedures of the employer, for example compassionate leave. Some might be at the discretion of an individual line-manager, for example flexible working arrangements. Some is down to colleagues, for example understanding someone’s low mood, or making them a cup of tea.

When death intrudes on our lives and expectations, workplaces can play an important role providing:

  • flexibility to allow someone to continue doing what matters most to them
  • information on financial, legal and other practical issues
  • understanding and social support

Providing a supportive workplace can also have benefits for the organisation. Research suggests compassion in the workplace:

  • reduces anxiety
  • helps people feel valued
  • helps people resume a sense of normality
  • increases bonds between co-workers
  • generates higher levels of shared positive emotion
  • builds a collective capacity for healing

What can be done to encourage more compassionate workplaces?

The Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care is currently undertaking work to support employers to become more bereavement-friendly.

We are working with others to bring together resources that explore and explain the role of employers, managers, colleagues, policies and structures in supporting employees through bereavement.

We envisage this new Bereavement-Friendly Workplaces Toolkit being available by late 2019, and at that point will be looking for organisations and individuals who are interested in providing feedback on the new resources, and promoting them locally. If you are interested in being a part of this work, please get in touch.

In the meantime, an exploration of the importance of bereavement-friendly workplaces is available here: A Road Less Lonely (Section 5, pp 23-29)

Photo by Pablo Varela on Unsplash

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