Creating a Compassionate Workplace: A conversation with Ari Simon, Founder of Grief at Work

In the fast-paced business world, it's easy to forget that employees are not just cogs in a machine but are people with real emotions, experiences, and lives outside of work. In a recent episode of "Getting Personal with Compt," Lauren Schneider, the Head of Communications, sat down with Ari Simon, Founder of Grief at Work, to discuss the importance of making the workplace more human.

In this blog recap, we delve into their conversation and explore how understanding and addressing grief in the workplace can lead to a more compassionate and productive work environment.

Meet Ari Simon: The Grief at Work Founder

Ari Simon, the founder of Grief at Work, introduced themselves and their mission to create a grief and loss-competent workplace. With a background in public policy and organizational development, Ari embarked on a career pivot that led to the creation of Grief at Work. Their personal experiences with grief and loss, combined with their work in city government, highlighted the dire need for acknowledging and addressing grief in professional settings.

Watch the full episode here:

The Impact of Grief on the Workplace

Ari emphasized that the way employees navigate tough times profoundly influences their overall work experience. Creating a psychologically safe workplace is crucial, where employees can be their authentic selves without fear of judgment or alienation. This entails recognizing that everyone copes with loss differently, and a one-size-fits-all approach is insufficient.

Additionally, according to a 2017 study by the Grief Recovery Institute, unresolved grief costs U.S. businesses approximately $75 billion each year. This number accounts for things like decreased productivity, absenteeism, etc.

The Evolution of the Conversation on Grief in the Workplace

The conversation about grief in the workplace has evolved over time, thanks in part to the changing nature of work itself. The COVID-19 pandemic served as a catalyst for understanding the importance of addressing grief. Remote and hybrid work models also highlighted the need for new ways of emotionally checking in with employees.

Moreover, societal events, such as racial justice reckonings, have underscored the significance of recognizing that loss can affect anyone at any time. Loss is unpredictable and can result from various circumstances, including personal experiences and social determinants of health.

Things are looking up - an APA 2022 Work and Well-being Survey revealed 71% of workers believe their employer is more concerned about mental health now than in the past. This support is so impactful that a resounding 81% of employees said they would look for workplaces that support mental wellbeing in their next job search.

Ari's Insights on Grief and Burnout

Ari shed light on the connection between grief and burnout, revealing that the effects of burnout often stem from underlying losses. Burnout can manifest as depleted energy, exhaustion, negativity, cynicism, and ineffectiveness—all of which are rooted in a sense of loss. Understanding this connection is essential for effectively addressing burnout in the workplace.

Tools and Resources for Addressing Grief at Work

Creating a compassionate workplace requires a collaborative effort involving employers, colleagues, and employees. Ari emphasized that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Employers can offer Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), support groups, and bereavement leave that accommodate various types of loss, including pet loss or community-related grief.

Other resources may include encouraging mindfulness and contemplative practices, promoting rituals or ceremonies, incorporating movement and exercise, and fostering connections with nature and living things. Laughter and joy, which have been shown to aid in processing grief, should also be integrated into the workplace culture.

The Importance of Trust Building

Trust is at the core of creating a supportive workplace environment. A 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer report found that 75% of employees trust their employer to do what is right, emphasizing the crucial role employers play in creating a supportive environment.

Employers should show a commitment to social justice and make employees feel that their grief related to societal events is acknowledged and supported. Trust-building extends to acknowledging that different individuals may require varying levels of support, time, and flexibility to cope with grief.

How to Connect with Ari Simon and Grief at Work

If your workplace is interested in addressing grief and creating a more compassionate work environment, Ari Simon and Grief at Work offer their expertise. Ari can facilitate difficult conversations, assist HR departments in implementing policies and programs, and provide valuable insights through their newsletter. You can connect with Ari Simon on their website,, or on LinkedIn.

Ari will also host a workshop on November 15, 2023 called Grief at Work: Weaving Loss Competency into Workplaces. You can register for the event here:


Recognizing and addressing grief in the workplace is not just a matter of empathy; it's a strategic move that can lead to higher staff retention, increased employee well-being, and improved workplace morale. As Ari Simon and Lauren Schneider discussed on "Getting Personal with Compt," making space for grief is not only the right thing to do; it's also a smart business decision that contributes to a more compassionate and productive work environment.

If you'd like to be a guest on the show, contact host Lauren Schneider at

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