Ulliance Well-Being Blog

Dealing with the Death of a Co-worker

Posted by Kathryn Lynch-Morin on Jul 26, 2018 12:10:00 PM

It’s important to have a proactive plan in place to support employees through the grieving process. 


The unexpected death of a colleague is always difficult for an employee, but when that colleague is also a friend or even a close family member, the grieving process takes on a whole new form.

In the manufacturing world (as well as many other organizations), where multiple generations or close family members often work together, the death of a colleague presents a number of challenges. While the family is grieving, other non-familial coworkers are dealing with the loss of a peer—and also learning to navigate new territory in working with surviving family members.

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According to the American Psychological Association (APA), the death of a co-worker often leads to preoccupied thoughts and difficulty focusing. In a production or manufacturing environment, a lack of concentration can present safety hazards for anyone who is operating equipment, performing intricate operations, or monitoring product quality.

Crises, such as a sudden death, are always unexpected, of course. But you can do a lot to reduce your risk by being proactive and having a plan in place. The APA recommends HR professionals establish protocols for responding to a worker’s death. The association suggests considering how to share information with employees, handle the deceased’s personal effects, and reassign work space or equipment.

Ulliance provides on-site support in the instance of employee death, delivering guidance and gentle suggestions on how to support grieving co-workers. Advice might include encouraging co-workers not to be afraid of or insensitive to the griever, suggesting active listening to words and observation of body language (what isn’t said), and recommending that the griever set the tone for the conversation. 


A specialized incident and crisis management team from Ulliance can help your employees and leadership effectively manage the grieving process through calm, caring, and immediate intervention. Does your EAP provide Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD)?

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Topics: employee assistance program, workplace, EAP, Crisis in the workplace, Employee Death, Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD)

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