Grief among employees can cost the bottom line unless a company takes action

Sorrow and depression can harm employee productivity and your bottom line as much as joke-telling sessions and unproductive meetings, new research by the non-profit Grief Recovery Institute has found.
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Sorrow and depression can harm employee productivity and your bottom line as much as joke-telling sessions and unproductive meetings, new research by the non-profit Grief Recovery Institute has found. Embarking on studies that have never before been done, the institute (www.grief-recovery.com) is trying to measure the true effects of everything from the death of a child, divorce or the loss of a pet. It's new "Grief Index" revealed that "hidden grief" costs U.S. companies more than $75 billion annually. "When your heart is broken, your head doesn't work right," said Russell Friedman, institute co-director. Certainly the index itself is somewhat subjective, but the institute is advocating for more and better grief counseling, longer bereavement leaves and more education. Longer leaves, the institute says, will allow someone to be immediately more productive when he or she does return. He also suggests "grief breaks" when an employee can take a walk, find a co-worker to chat or a quiet stairwell to think -- all making them better workers when they return to their desks. Hallmark Cards Inc. has a company-wide support network of employees who sign up in various categories (Alzheimers, childhood illnesses or infertility, as examples) to be available to talk to co-workers who often want to talk to someone who has experienced what they are going through. The program is called "Compassionate Connections." The non-scientific Grief Index cites annual losses: For example, death of a loved one, $37.6 billion; family crisis, $9 billion; money trouble at home, $4.6 billion, and pet loss, $2.4 billion.

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