MetLife UK is publicising the need for increased support in the workplace for employees coping with bereavement.
The protection provider says the role of the line manager is a critical one in supporting staff through difficult and emotive circumstances. They too need support in place to provide practical and emotional support and guidance.
Research shows the scale of the issue at work – with an estimated one in 10 employees are affected by bereavement at any given time. The most recent government data shows around 96,000 people of working age die each year out of the total of more than 600,000 deaths registered in the UK.
MetLife UK says the impact of bereavement is very real and can be potentially devastating but is often not recognised fully at work. At a highly emotional time, MetLife provides a complimentary Bereavement & Probate helpline with its Group Life cover for employees ensuring employees and employers have the support they need – both emotionally and practically. It also offers support for terminal illness diagnosis – whether for the individual or colleagues and/or loved ones.
The Bereavement and Probate helpline is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and provides practical and emotional support for MetLife customers and their families. Employees are eligible for six face-to-face counselling sessions a year, with the helpline offering emotional support as well as help with the practical challenges people face during bereavement.
Financial intermediaries who have Terms of Business agreed with MetLife also receive complimentary access to this service.
MetLife has a new toolkit available including a guide to the service for intermediaries and employers, posters to promote the service for employees, and 10 key considerations for line managers.
The key considerations highlight how line managers can support employees affected by a bereavement and also the possible impact on individuals in the workplace if they suffer the loss of a colleague.
Managers may need to consider include understanding issues including the support that is available and how it can help their employees both practically and emotionally, at a very sensitive time. Staff may need time off work to cope in the immediate aftermath of a bereavement while the anniversary can also be difficult. Managers may need to communicate with families as well as colleagues and potentially clients.
Communicating the company bereavement policy to all staff is an effective way to help with returning to work while reducing staff anxiety at a challenging time.
Adrian Matthews, employee benefits director at MetLife UK, said: “Businesses often have very limited experience dealing with bereavement or terminal illness and can find themselves unprepared and overwhelmed when it happens.
“Employers and employees need access to comprehensive practical and emotional support to help meet the needs of the individual and the business at their time of need, for as long as they need it.”