Bereavement Support Line 1800 80 70 77

Grief in the Workplace Research: Preliminary results released

The Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) has today announced the preliminary results of its Grief in the Workplace Research.

In 2018, the IHF began the two-part research project looking at how bereaved employees are currently supported in the Irish workplace. It was carried out using a sample size of 1000.

The preliminary results (employees’ experiences) will now be used to inform Part 2 of the research, which will examine the experiences of organisations when an employee is bereaved. It will be released in early 2020.  

Grief in the Workplace Research Part 1: Preliminary Results 

  1. Being treated with compassion by an employer was identified as the most important support for employees who are bereaved (75%)
  2. ‘Soft’ supports like compassionate treatment and acknowledgement of loss are more important on the whole than ‘hard’ supports like flexible working hours and extra leave entitlements.
  3. 3 in 10 Irish adults said their employer has a bereavement policy. 3 in 10 said their employer didn’t have a policy and 4 in 10 didn’t know.
  4. 25% of people are not satisfied with the support received from their employer
  5. More than half of respondents would feel less committed to their job if they were not appropriately supported following a bereavement
  6. Inadequate support has implications for absenteeism and morale: 46% would take more sick days if they were not appropriately supported, and 45% feel disgruntled and talk to other employees about it
  7. Almost a third (32%) would think about leaving the job.
  8. Almost a quarter of respondents (24%) would actually leave the job if not appropriately supported.

Training Manager (Bereavement and End-of-Life Care) with the IHF is Breffni McGuinness: “This research has significant implications for best practice in workplaces in supporting employees who are bereaved. Bereavement leave and policies are important but more than these, employees want to be treated with compassion when they are dealing with significant losses.”

“It is their perception of how they are treated by their employer that makes the difference.  When this is done well – it will always be remembered – when it is done badly – it will never be forgotten and this has significant implications for absenteeism and employee morale. Almost one in four employees said that they would actually leave their job if they were not supported around their bereavement.” 

This IHF research on grief in the workplace helps us to understand what is important to employees who are bereaved and what they want from their employer. Along with recent developments in bereavement leave spearheaded by Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and the Irish Civil Service it raises awareness of the importance of providing effective support to employees who are bereaved as a workplace issue. 


For over 10 years, the IHF has played a leading role in raising awareness about how grief can impact staff in the workplace and in turn, how organisations, managers and colleagues can provide effective support.

In 2007, based on a survey of 33 Irish workplaces, and in consultation with employee and employer organisations the IHF developed:  Grief at Work – A Guide For Developing a Bereavement Policy which has become a default resource for HR professionals and organisations looking to develop a Bereavement Policy.

The IHF has also worked in partnership with Ibec, Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), the Small Firms Association, the Health and Safety Authority, Government and other organisations to produce a series of helpful factsheets for workplaces. 

What do I Say  

What do I Do   

For more information on Grief in the Workplace contact:  [email protected]