October 25, 2006 Edition

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Employers need to work
on bereavement support

(Note: The following information was released by The Compassionate Friends' national office in Oak Brook, Ill. Dana Penn of Walnut Ridge, organizer of the local group, shared it with The TD. The group meets monthly and is open to all.)

Just over half of all parents who experience the death of their child while working outside the home rate their employers as having been helpful in providing support in the days that followed, according to a survey conducted by The Compassionate Friends.

The survey found that 50.9 percent of parents rated their employers as either extremely or somewhat helpful at the time of their child's death. Of the remainder, most said their employer was neither helpful or unhelpful, although 8.8 percent rated their employer as somewhat or extremely helpful.

While more than half of employers received good marks, this was a drop compared to the 1999 survey also conducted by TCF. In that survey, 69 percent gave their employers a passing grade.

The drop is disheartening. There could be many reasons for the slide. Smaller companies are being rapidly absorbed by larger companies, which are generally perceived as less caring of individual employees. Market pressures may also be causing companies to demand higher performance from every person on the job.

Through its Compassionate Employer Recognition Program, The Compassionate Friends annually recognize employers who are nominated by employees as having gone above and beyond the call of duty following the death of a child within their families.

It is every employer's responsibility to support an employee who has experienced the death of a child. In light of the current survey, employers should re-examine their personnel policies to assure they are providing a positive response in support of employees who are suddenly bereaved parents.

The Compassionate Friends is a nearly 600 chapter bereavement organization for families that have experienced the death of a child. More information on the survey and TCF can be found online at www.compassionatefriends.org.

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