First Things First
There needs to be a meeting her first day back. Those attending the meeting need to be her immediate supervisor and his/her supervisor and any member of upper management interested in her wellbeing. The meeting’s purpose is to express support and a willingness to help her perform at the level you need.
You may expect her to know what she needs but trust me the only thing she knows is her name and that she has a dead husband and now she is back to work with the expectation of performing as if nothing happened.
In the time it takes to blink her world was turned upside down, inside out and backwards at the same time.
- Weekly Meetings- Hold weekly meetings to find out how she is feeling. Also discuss, set and review performance milestones designed to get her meeting job requirements.
- Job Buddy – Someone who knows her job and can provide support and assistance.
- Feelings – Don’t force her to “stuff” her feelings. Shoving feelings deep down inside will make her ill. It is not good for her mental or physical well-being.
- Physical Health – Encourage her to see her doctor so she and her family know her health status. Remember, I was told the chance of me becoming ill and dying before the second anniversary was great.
- Grief Counseling – Allow her time off to seek grief counseling either from a trained professional or a support group such as Griefshare.
- Holidays - The holidays are going to be especially tough the first year. Her performance will probably suffer during these times so you may as well let her have time off for holidays and special family events.
- Her Story - Let her share her story with co-workers so they have some understanding of what she had been through. This can be done at a meeting if she feels up to it or through a Grief Letter she writes explaining:
The details of her husband’s death. (as much as she is willing to share)
Thanking everyone for their support.
Advising them what she needs to get through her grief journey.
Plan Ideas To Help Re-engage Her Brain
- Special Projects - Let her have input on a special project going on in the office. Nothing major like mergers, but something simple like:
Member of the Potluck Committee.
Input on the color scheme for the new carpet, walls, or cubicles.
Input on who to put where during the next round of “Musical Cubicles.”
You get the idea. Something simple, different and gives her something “new” to focus on for a while, which can be refreshing.
- Exercise Group – Start an exercise group that walks up and down the stairs for morning and/or afternoon break. If there are no stairs then walk around either the inside or outside of the building.
- Lunch Time Book Club – Again something different for the widow to focus on. Keep the reading material on the lighter side.
I Know, I Know
I know this is a lot to ask of employers and I hear lots of grumbling as I write this post. Just remember these suggestions are based on my experience. You can implement these or come up with different ideas.
You have two choices:
- Work together in developing a plan so she can perform at the level you need.
- Leave her flopping around on the dock like a fish out of water. Maybe she is able to perform at the level needed without any help and maybe not.
Which would you prefer if your life changed in the time it takes to blink?
Coming tomorrow – Drama Queens