Hospice Providers Increasingly Using Bereavement Support as Employee-Retention Lever

Hospices competing for sparse staffing resources are increasingly recognizing the retention value of including grief care support in their benefits packages.

Having bereavement services built into employee benefits packages has a two-pronged impact on hospice worker retention and recruitment, according to Betterleave CEO Cara McCarty Abbott.

Employees that have access to grief support services are more likely to remain at a hospice organization for longer periods of time, as well as refer their workplace to others, she stated.


“When employees feel cared for, they’re 60% more likely to remain at a company for three or more years,” McCarty Abbott told Hospice News in an email. “These same employees are 90% more likely to suggest their company as an exceptional place to work to others.”

The Austin-Texas-based grief tech platform Betterleave launched last year, increasing collaborations with hospice providers ever since. The company offers hospices their services to families receiving bereavement care, as well as their workforce.

Betterleave is among the startup companies rolling out grief support services among employers. While others exist in the space, many of these companies partner with insurance providers or offer direct-to-consumer services.


Empathy is another bereavement startup stepping into the employer realm. The company rolled out services in 2021 with an app designed to help reduce the burden on grieving families and provide additional layers of emotional support.

Empathy recently formed a collaboration with MetLife Inc. (NYSE: MET) to offer its grief support tech platform to the insurance giant’s employees and beneficiaries. The first MetLife client to offer the platform was AT&T (NYSE: T), as an employee benefit.

Providing bereavement support to employees can offer hospices a leg up on competitors, according to Ron Gura, co-founder and CEO of Empathy. Inclusion in employee benefits packages is among the biggest levers towards sustainable workforce retention, he indicated.

Nearly half of organizations across the country that are actively working to change their bereavement policy cited attracting and retaining talent as key drivers influencing their decisions, according to an Empathy survey shared with Hospice News.

“Offering robust bereavement support can set an employer apart in a competitive job market and demonstrate a commitment to employee welfare,” Gura told Hospice News in an email. “Employees whose employers equip them with comprehensive support during difficult times are more likely to maintain their focus and productivity at work, creating a more engaged workforce, which ultimately translates to better business outcomes.”

Cost vs. impact of grief support benefits packages

Bereavement support can have a significant impact on an employee’s ability to focus and their overall well-being in a workplace environment, Gura stated. It’s important for hospice leaders to recognize that bereavement causes employees to encounter significant emotional and practical challenges that impact their ability to thrive, he said.

More than three-quarters of employees in another recent nationwide survey from Empathy reported a decline in work productivity after experiencing a recent loss, he said.

The costs of lagging bereavement support among employees can be high for hospice providers, according to McCarty Abbott. Hospices can experience higher costs related to loss of productivity among bereaved employees, she indicated.

Collaborating with bereavement support companies can help hospices better understand the impacts of unmet grief needs among their employees, according to McCarty Abbott. These collaborations can help hospices develop expanded bereavement leave programs, build work reintegration processes and improve recognition and management of burnout symptoms among staff, she explained.

Hospice organizations with a variety of bereavement support levers in their benefits packages stand to gain a dedicated workforce that feels supported in their toughest moments of loss, according to Gura.

Building and sustaining bereavement-related employee benefits within the workplace “demands a compassionate and multifaceted approach” on the leadership side, he stated.

“Acknowledging the diverse nature of grief is key,” Gura told Hospice News. “Bereavement policies should be flexible to accommodate varied forms of grief, including often-overlooked experiences like miscarriages, which can be as emotionally devastating as any other loss. Moreover, these policies should extend beyond immediate family relationships. If there is a bereavement support policy in place, employees should be made aware of any provisions it contains.”

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