23. Your Bereavement Leave Policy Probably Sucks – And How to Change It

In the corporate world, some policies, procedures and processes take years to change. But others may just require a small group of individuals who say “there’s a better way to do this.” Today, we’re talking about one of those policies in particular – bereavement leave. Unfortunately, most companies have archaic bereavement leave policies in place that don’t consider the personal and cultural differences we all might face when it comes to the loss of a loved one. In today’s episode Veerless leaders Marcy Twete and Kristen Fischer outline the steps your company can take to build a better bereavement policy in your company.


Key action items to change your bereavement leave policy:

  1. Redefine bereavement leave with more time than just leave for a funeral
    While traditionally defined as a few days off post the loss of a loved one, bereavement leave has the potential to be so much more. Grief isn’t confined to a set timeline; it’s a multifaceted journey, varying immensely from individual to individual. By aligning yourpolicies with compassion, we can provide an empathetic response, allowing employees the necessary time and flexibility to heal, reflecting a company culture that truly values its workforce. 
  2. Craft comprehensive policies that consider:
    Flexibility and Customization: Relationships are complex and diverse. Therefore, bereavement policies should be comprehensive, covering any form of loss, regardless of the nature of the relationship. 
    Inclusion of Reproductive Loss: Expanding the definition of loss to include reproductive challenges acknowledges a broader spectrum of grief and demonstrates an organization’s commitment to understanding diverse experiences. 
    Pet Bereavement: The bonds formed with pets are undeniable. Acknowledging the impact of such a loss demonstrates an organization’s comprehensive understanding of grief. 
    Empowerment and Trust: Encourage an environment of trust by not demanding proof of death and empowering employees with the flexibility to take leave as per their unique needs.
  3. Use legislation as a foundation
    Though bereavement leave isn’t federally mandated, many states are leading the way with progressive laws. Employers can look to these policies as a foundation and build upon them, demonstrating that the business community can be as progressive as any legislative body. 
  4. Find examples from like-minded companies
    Companies like Reddit, Airbnb, and Facebook are setting commendable examples by offering extensive bereavement leave. These policies not only support employees during trying times but also foster a nurturing work environment and enhance the company’s reputation. 

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