Guest: Alex Seiler, Chief People Officer

Alex covered a ton in a short amount of time! Here’s the TLDW;
(or you could just hit play!)

Alex Seiler brings a unique and experienced perspective to our conversations about grief in the workplace. Alex is a seasoned HR professional who has been the head of HR at major companies like Blue Shield, WeWork and NBCUniversal. During his career, he lost his mother to cancer and has since molded his professional HR approach to be more compassionate, empathetic and understanding.

A summary of his experiences and suggestions:

Current Bereavement Policies:

Limited scope often restricts support to immediate family members, neglecting other significant relationships.For example, rigid timeframes may not align with varied grief experiences, pressuring employees to return prematurely.

Empathy Leave Policies:
Offered by progressive companies, these policies promote a holistic approach to supporting employees during difficult life events.Flexible usage beyond bereavement accommodates diverse life challenges, fostering a culture of empathy and well-being.

Support for Caregivers:
Acknowledgment of added challenges for caregivers experiencing loss, including identity loss and exhaustion.This combined burden can significantly impact an employee’s ability to perform effectively at work.

Progressive Company Initiatives:
Advocacy for widespread grief training and recognition of HR teams’ lack of preparedness to address grief-related issues.Importance lies in equipping coworkers and managers with understanding and empathy to provide meaningful support.

Employee Mental Health Initiatives:
Examples like Goldman Sachs providing mental health training for employees, fostering a psychologically safe work environment.Such initiatives equip employees with coping strategies and support resources, prioritizing mental health awareness and well-being.

Organizational Maturity in Grief Support:
Suggested phased approach to implementation based on company maturity level, ensuring gradual adoption and sustainable change.Continuous policy evolution, reflecting organizational growth and commitment, is essential to meet changing needs.

Building Bereavement Response:
Inclusivity in policy development, drawing insights from diverse stakeholders, ensures evidence-based and inclusive support structures.Collaboration and research are essential to develop policies that reflect the realities and needs of the workforce.

Final Takeaways:
Collaboration, research, and ongoing policy evolution are essential in crafting comprehensive and inclusive bereavement policies.Encouragement to seek diverse input from employees, HR teams, and leadership fosters ownership and investment in supportive policy development.

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