Caring For Your Staff

Dr. Alan Wolfelt helped create a guide for funeral service last year in the middle of the Pandemic called, “Caring for Families & Caring for Yourself”. It is a free resource available through the Funeral Service Foundation.  This guide contains a Self-Care Manifesto and worthwhile exercises to help us cope with the many stresses of our profession.
As you read this blog, I hope that most of you have a copy and are incorporating his teachings into your work and personal lives. I suggest that you share copies with your staff and continue to discuss the content on a continuous basis.
Helping our fellow team members with the many stressors in our profession is so important. If you have not been doing this lately, consider that it’s time to use this guide to assist you in having more discussions about how your staff is feeling.
Why should you take the time to help staff cope with stress and spend time in an open discussion about their feelings?  If we are paying attention to the many articles about the “Great Resignation”, what is happening in our country as we enter 2022, should be disconcerting to us
I am hearing from business owners that they are losing staff to other professions. They are struggling to find experienced or even new licensed professionals to replace those they are losing. Are you experiencing this in your business? If so, you are not alone. Professions from accounting firms to fast food chains are experiencing severe staffing shortages. There are many theories as to why this resignation is happening now that the pandemic is winding down in our country. If you speak to mental health professionals, they are seeing a significant increase in individuals who are experiencing a serious mental health crisis. Could this be the case for Funeral Service?
How can staff effectively serve those who mourn if they are struggling themselves? How will we know they are struggling with their mental health? Will they tell us by walking away? My question to all of us in funeral service is, did the increase in COVID death calls burn out many on your staff? Or was it the isolation, the loneliness, the time they had at home or working by themselves that gave them time to reassess their careers?
Regardless of the cause, I believe that we need to pay more attention to our staff’s mental health than ever before. I also think that the focus for those in ownership and management in our profession should be on spending more of their time, caring for, and checking in often with team members. Creating ongoing times for effective listening, asking what else they need to feel better supported, is essential going forward.
Experts in generational management are sharing some interesting theories.  They are saying that Baby Boomer employees may continue just as they have before, or many, because of all the new technology advancements that are being required of them, may retire early or go part-time. The Gen X-ers may use this “Great Resignation” to better themselves by seeking a promotion, or they may leave and find ways to start a new business venture online out of their home, or they may be seeking other opportunities elsewhere in other professions. This group will continue to work hard to achieve success.
The Millennials are questioning whether they want to stay in their current jobs. They like working from home, online, and not coming into an office every day. They embraced the use of new technology during the Pandemic, like Zoom and Live streaming. They are also telling us they desire this type of work, and they will be looking for employers or careers that offer the use of new technology with more flexible work schedules and those that embrace a more virtual workplace. I am also hearing that some lot them loved being home with their children as schools were closed. They found enjoyment in being stay-at-home teaching parents. The reality of returning to a traditional work environment with an employer that makes them work nights and weekends is seemingly not appealing to many. This generation also needs continuous caring feedback, praise, and appreciation. In other words, they need to hear from us more often that they are doing well and if not, phrase your suggestions delicately.
I have heard of owners and managers who feel they are working harder now more than ever because they can’t find enough help. With this staff shortage will they be able to find the time for staff caregiving meetings, training sessions, and open discussion times that we are hearing esp. the Millennials need of them?
I know that will not be an easy to spend more time with your staff members, but I believe that it will be essential going forward.  It seems that we may be in the middle of potential dichotomy that could be like a perfect storm with no end in sight.  Are there solutions to this dichotomy in our profession? In my experience as a former owner, I learned that focusing on the needs of our staff first and foremost is of utmost importance. There was a time where I thought that our client’s families should come first and that their needs were more important.
I was wrong!
When we sincerely show our staff we care for them, take the time to listen to them, and work hard to create a workplace that is open to meeting their needs and we are willing to consider new ways of doing business, we will gain their respect and perhaps their loyalty as well. We may also find that we can improve retention and become the “Employer of Choice” in our communities, and in return better serve our client’s families.
In my Podcast Series “Caring for your Staff – Part One”, I interview Marguerite Ham of Igniting success, where we discuss why managers and owners need to do more listening, training and, caring for their team members.
I hope you will listen in, keep an open mind, and continue to reach out to your staff to ask them, how can you improve your relationships with them, show that you care for them and desire to meet their emotional support needs, thus helping them feel more fulfilled in their careers.
I hope too, that you will open your hearts and become better caregivers of your staff, thus leading to better retention and attraction of the best and the brightest new talent that is entering our profession both now and in the future.

My best always,

Lisa Baue