Why you need this
During our research for Headstone, we interviewed hundreds of people, many of them in direct leadership roles running companies and some heading up HR, benefits and reward. One particular interview stands out from them all, conducted in March 2021 with a marketing agency in London.
A senior member of their team had died from a heart attack, at only 46. He was survived by his wife and baby. The widow called the office the next morning to tell them as she didn’t know anyone on the team despite her late husband having worked there for over a year. With all the lockdowns and working from home there hadn’t been anything normal about this new role he had taken on, and she’d not met anyone or heard any names.
The skeleton staff in the office were not prepared for the call to the front desk. The young girl they hired there had known the man of course and was immediately distressed by the news. The widow then questioned what next? What benefits were there with the job? Did the company help in any way? Would they still pay the bonus he had been talking about? The HR Manager was working from home, the MD was on a conference call and to this day the company is haunted by the request for the widow to wait on hold and then be asked if someone could call her back. In the confusion and panic her number wasn’t taken but thankfully it was found later, on the HR file, once they got access to it.
Weeks passed, lockdown lifted, and the widow asked if she could meet the MD. The reason being that they were struggling to piece together the life cut short and so much of it seemed to be on his work laptop and through his work email. Could it be opened? Could someone go through the emails with her and help? She was struggling to understand where anything was and it was all so much more difficult than she’d ever conceived it could be.
No one in the company had thought about this stuff before and no one had experienced losing a teammate. It would be possible to go through the emails yes, it would be possible to get IT to hack the laptop too and see if there were passwords and helpful accounts stored on there but wouldn’t it just have been easier if all this had been written down somewhere.
This agency was one of the first companies we asked to sign up.