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How to Remedy a Conflict of Value Systems GRIEF IN THE WORKPLACE Erin Barnes Holly Boyer Paula Jones Katie Wheeler Michael Zielinski.

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Presentation on theme: "How to Remedy a Conflict of Value Systems GRIEF IN THE WORKPLACE Erin Barnes Holly Boyer Paula Jones Katie Wheeler Michael Zielinski."— Presentation transcript:

1 How to Remedy a Conflict of Value Systems GRIEF IN THE WORKPLACE Erin Barnes Holly Boyer Paula Jones Katie Wheeler Michael Zielinski

2 Handling grief in the workplace is both a delicate and difficult issue Unfortunately, it is also a common one If not properly dealt with, there is the tendency for it to extend past the grieving employee(s) into the foundation of the workplace itself by disrupting communication, productivity, and relationships Managers and employees must be trained and informed on how to best approach grief This presentation looks at a serious mishandling of grief in the workplace, how to prevent and avoid similar situations, and possible solutions one might take to remedy such an incident INTRODUCTION

3 Donna Martiniuk has worked for the River Rapids Public Library for 15 years; currently the assistant director for public services The previous year, her daughter Emily was killed by a drunk driver Jim Graylick, the library director, encouraged Donna to take as much time as she needed after Emily’s death She returned to work within two weeks, but with a new mission: the fight against drunk driving A natural spokesperson, Donna soon became a national figure and an officer in a prominent anti-drunk driving organization. CASE SUMMARY

4 While Jim and the rest of the library staff supported Donna, her responsibilities at the library soon started to suffer After calculating that Donna had been away from the library for half the time over the previous two months, and learning through discreet inquiries that much of her work simply wasn’t getting done, Jim decided he had to talk to her He carefully planned the meeting and came up with a number of options, including an agreement on the level of outside activity, relinquishing her administrative responsibilities, moving to a part-time position, or taking a leave of absence He was also open to any suggestions Donna had CASE SUMMARY (2)

5 The meeting did not go well Donna quickly interrupted Jim, saying that she was trying to save lives and insisting that she was getting all her work done by taking it home and on the road with her Jim knew that the paperwork wasn’t getting done – and that an assistant director for public services needed to be at the library But he didn’t say any of that, as Donna went on to say that she still believed she could combine both responsibilities and had assumed he would support her – but if he felt she was taking advantage of the library, she would take her vacation days and then leave without pay for any additional absences Embarrassed and angry, Jim wondered if he should have talked to the board about the problems before sitting down with Donna CASE SUMMARY (3)

6 LITERATURE REVIEW Hazen (2009) explores the impact of grief on the workplace and how managers can be prepared to handle it Most of the time, people grieve because a person closer to the has died In the United States, about 2.5 million people die every year, with each death affecting an average of five people Likely, a large number of those bereaved people are in the workforce, often returning to work within a week of their losses (p.290)

7 LITERATURE REVIEW Jim seemed unaccustomed to handling workplace grief Rather than address it, Jim and others at River Rapids did their best to cover for Donna and generally ignored the problem Although sympathetic to her grieving, it was Jim's job to hold Donna accountable for her responsibilities as assistant director, for as Gordon states, "Manager cannot afford to make only popular choices; they need to base their actions on what will be best for the institution" (p.76) Jim's reluctance to communicate with Donna resulted in a mishandled, one- sided conversation

8 LITERATURE REVIEW Gibson et. al. (2010) tell us that trauma to parents following a child's suicide is often similar to losing a child by tragic accidents Parents have difficulty readjusting to the workplace, including Having a hard time interacting socially with colleagues Experiencing changes in personal priorities, such as how Donna has taken on a new role allowing her to help others prevent and deal with drunk driving Parents have difficulty readjusting to the workplace, including Having a hard time interacting socially with colleagues Experiencing changes in personal priorities, such as how Donna has taken on a new role allowing her to help others prevent and deal with drunk driving Employers should expect changes in parent's behavior and performance at work Suggestions for handling bereaved parents include gradual returns to work, a change in the job role or position, help with the workload, and support for the parent and other employees (p. 521)

9 Hazen also discusses the impact of grief in workplace and how managers need to recognize the importance of being informed about workplace grief, symptoms of grief, theories on how people heal, and how they can respond to grief Hazen also discusses the impact of grief in workplace and how managers need to recognize the importance of being informed about workplace grief, symptoms of grief, theories on how people heal, and how they can respond to grief While Donna's grief was clear to all, it was left unaddressed by Jim If managers know that an employee has experienced a loss, they can acknowledge the loss, account for the grief, offer support, and work with the employee to minimize possible damaging effects in the workplace (p.293) If managers know that an employee has experienced a loss, they can acknowledge the loss, account for the grief, offer support, and work with the employee to minimize possible damaging effects in the workplace (p.293) LITERATURE REVIEW

10 Tyler (2003) mentions the importance of the human resources department or representative being involved from the start Organizations should have a formal policy dealing with bereavement, including leave (p.56) HR has a role in mediating between the employee and supervisor in handling workload and performance for bereaved parents (p.58) The employee, supervisor, and HR rep should have serious discussions about accommoda- tions the employee may need and supervisor expectations (p.58) Reassignment may be necessary if the employee does not want or cannot complete job tasks LITERATURE REVIEW

11 Bell (2010) also describes the steps a supervisor should take when an employee has declining performance, which includes documenting the poor performance, helping the employee visualize the problem (and consequences) helping the employee to feel relief by asking what the supervisor can do to help and by referring the employee to an Employee Assistance Program, if necessary and available (p. 5) Bell (2010) also describes the steps a supervisor should take when an employee has declining performance, which includes documenting the poor performance, helping the employee visualize the problem (and consequences) helping the employee to feel relief by asking what the supervisor can do to help and by referring the employee to an Employee Assistance Program, if necessary and available (p. 5) LITERATURE REVIEW

12 Because of disastrous previous meeting, Donna would doubtfully be willing to listen to Jim One on one meeting with Donna Lay out criticism and documentation of Donna’s absenteeism and declining performance Hold second discussion with Donna Address Board of Trustees Include a third party mediator in discussion with Donna Jim would apologize to Donna for his mishandling of the situation They would then be able to discuss their expectations Address Board of Trustees as in second approach 12 POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS

13 Formally document problem behaviors and the poor performance of “…negative employees (you will need dates, times, and behaviors to counter their entrenched position as popular incumbent)” (Gordon, 2005, p.78). Second meeting with Donna Central to all possible solutions Jim’s four solutions presented in the case study Agree on the level of outside activity Temporarily relinquish administrative responsibilities Switch to part-time position Take a leave of absence Other options include a “flexible schedule, reduced workload or temporary reassignment…” (Tyler, 2003, p. 58). Several options for moving forward 13 POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS

14 SOLUTION Jim apologizes to Donna for how he made her feel during their last meeting New meeting where third unbiased party is present Library offers to host MADD related programming Jim & Donna set benchmarks to be met. If not met they can reevaluate Donna's job description.

15 POSSIBLE REACTIONS Everyone ends up happy Donna slowly returns to her former ways The colleagues receive counseling for dealing with grief in the workplace The library gets good press for their involvement with the MADD activities Jim gets removed from the situation before a meeting is even able to take place, the board removes Jim from the situation or from the job entirely

16 POSSIBLE REACTIONS She quits The library receives bad media for looking unsympathetic towards Donna's loss Donna feels attacked She does poor work at the library until she is fired She retaliates with negative campaigning towards the director and he gets fired Donna gets even She quits knowing that she cannot return to her former way of life and does not want to hurt the library Donna feels defeated

17  Bell, R. I. (January 01, 2010). A three-step process to save troubled employees from themselves. Supervision, 71, 11, 3.  Eisaguirre, L. (2009). “We need to talk” tough conversations with your employee: From performance reviews to terminations tackle any topic with sensitivity and smarts. Avon, MA: Adams Media. (This citation is from the actual book that I have, I’m not sure why it was changed.)  Gibson, J., Gallagher, M., & Jenkins, M. (January 01, 2010). The experiences of parents readjusting to the workplace following the death of a child by suicide. Death Studies, 34, 6,  Gordon, R. S. (2004). The accidental library manager. Medford, N.J: Information Today.  Hazen, M. A. (October 01, 2009). Recognizing and responding to workplace grief. Organizational Dynamics, 38, 4, Retrieved from Academic One File on March 16, 2013  Tyler, K. (January 01, 2003). EMPLOYEE RELATIONS - Helping employees cope with grief - HR can help employees recover from grief after a loved one dies suddenly. Hrmagazine, 48, 9, 54. REFERENCES


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