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Symposium: Compassionate workplaces (Misty's Room)

Bonnie Tompkins, Jessie Williams and Robert Peacock

Within the field of Public Health Palliative Care, the term ‘compassionate community’ (CC) is used to describe communities of people who feel encouraged to engage with, and increase their understanding about, the experience of living with a serious illness, care, dying and grieving. Members in a CC understand that it is everyone’s responsibility and recognise that these experiences are a part of everyone’s journey through life. Since we spend about a third of our adult life working, workplaces also need to strive to make it their responsibility.
Pallium Canada, The GroundSwell Project (Australia), and Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief (Scotland) each have a national desire to create a cultural shift in the way ordinary citizens respond to death, dying, loss and care. This session will show how three national Not-for-Profits were able to show, not only the need, but the business case for why employers should reorient their environment to be a more compassionate workplace.
Pallium Canada – has created a toolkit that can be used by workplaces to help support both employers and employees dealing with caregiving, dying and grieving. The desired outcome of the approach is to reduce stigma, increase awareness of these experiences and comfortability felt by both employees who are dealing with these experiences and their colleagues who had the desire to support them. They will also share the process taken to create this toolkit and highlight some of the key articles used to validate the need for such a tool. Participants will have a better understanding of the literature, development approach and key stakeholders, overview of the topics covered in final product, and initial feedback from employers and employees.
The GroundSwell Project (GSP)- Reflections on the success and learnings from spending two years actively promoting compassionate at work. The focus has been on supporting workplaces to be better at dying and grieving, which has been both pro-active and re-active.
GSP has had some success at responding to an immediate need from work leaders to navigate the immediate challenges of supporting a colleague who has suffered an unexpected loss, however we are still learning what it takes for workplaces to invest pre-emotively. Based on our current engagement with workplaces, we can confidently say that on the whole companies do not know how to respond to an employee who has suffered a death of someone close to them.

GSP will share their variety of methods trialed to engage workplaces, such as breakfast meetings, sharing success stories from the workplace, creation of service delivery material and more. They will showcase case studies of corporate executive suffering a perinatal loss and social medial engage around bereavement leave being only 2 days.
Participants learnings will include start with your known network, identify compassionate leaders to build on what’s strong in the company culture, workshop material in line with business needs, and consideration of a Compassionate Employer Award.
Good Life Good Death Good Grief - Current findings from the Bereavement Friendly Workplaces project being undertaken by Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief in Scotland.

Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief has been working with a small number of workplaces around Scotland to understand and learn from their experiences of bereavement of staff members. The project was born out of initial research into the subject as reported in Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief’s 2018 report, A Road Less Lonely.

In the initial stages of the project, Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief met representatives from employers from different sectors and of different sizes, union officials, trade bodies and other third sector agencies to get a broad picture of bereavement in the Scottish workplace. As a result of these conversations, Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief has been collating existing resources and developing new ones to help workplaces to become more bereavement friendly. Work is now underway to help disseminate these resources around Scottish employers.

In this session, Robert Peacock from Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief will outline:

• Key findings from Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief’s research
• Challenges and barriers faced by employers in providing bereavement support
• Knowledge gaps and support needs of employers
• Resources that have proven to be helpful for employers
• Learnings from working with employers on this topic

Through the sharing of each diverse approach, participants will have a better understanding of the current supportive tools in this field. They will also gain an understanding of the collaboration and negotiation required to achieve buy-in from employers. This knowledge will aide them with the creation of their own compassionate workplaces and can be transferable to other environments where fostering compassion is met with increased push back, for instance, schools. Ultimately, this session will support the scale and spread of compassionate workplaces around the world.