When my husband passed away, there was no internet, text messaging or cell phones; however there was internal email. I was saddened to learn that my employees read about his death in an email rather than being informed by a considerate phone call. I am sure they had questions and direct interaction could have provided answers. At the time we used the telephone to inform families that school was cancelled due to snow, or that soccer practice was cancelled – yet for such a significant and sensitive event, my co-workers were not called about my loss.
When there is a loss of an employee or a significant loss to a family member of an employee, reaching out to co-workers directly via telephone is the most respectful approach, both confirming the appropriate people have been apprised of the situation and squelching the potential spread of gossip and inaccurate information.
Often you will notice that media will withhold names pending the family being notified of a situation. While television or radio professionals will hold back information, social media won’t. Speculation will be tweeted, posted on Facebook and texted immediately – we live in a world demanding information instantly. While we cannot control the masses when sharing sensitive information, we can make sure to contact key individuals directly, properly and respectfully so that they have the most current and relevant information regarding the loss.
Rachel Kodanaz is an author, speaker and coach who provides support to workplaces when there has been a death of an employee or when an employee has experienced a personal loss. She is the author of Grief in the Workplace and Living with Loss, One Day at a Time. Both are available on www.rachelkodanaz.com or www.amazon.com.