Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 131–148 | Cite as

Employee-Based HRM: Bereavement Policy in a Changing Work Environment

  • Lizabeth A. BarclayEmail author
  • Jae Hyeung Kang
Research Articles


While the field of Human Resources increasingly plays a strategic role, there is a call for organizations to become more employee-centered. To examine the tension between strategic and employee-centered approaches, this paper examines bereavement policy. Bereavement policy potentially affects all employees during their careers. The implementation of bereavement policies may have long-term effects on employee commitment and engagement. Additionally, while counseling and medical literature consider this topic, it has had little attention from management scholars and the current literature is disconnected from the work experiences of many employees. We review the literature on bereavement and grief from both scholarly and practitioner perspectives. This literature suggests that typical organizational bereavement policies are grounded in the strategic goals of efficiency and productivity. Next, we examine bereavement through several approaches that consider how work policies affect employees. In doing so, we suggest a conceptual framework that considers employee-centered human resources through the integration of several established literatures. First, we discuss work-life balance as a broader context for organizational bereavement policy. Second, we consider bereavement through an organizational justice framework. Third, we evaluate bereavement literature through virtue ethics to consider the role of community and compassion in organizational life. Based on these approaches we suggest future research as well as practical implementation of bereavement policies that help both the employee and the organization. Finally, the paper concludes with reflections on strategic versus employee-centered approaches in a changing work environment.


Bereavement policies Employee-based HRM Work-life balance Organizational justice Virtue ethics 



The authors would like to thank Carrie A. Bulger for her helpful comments. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 19th Annual Meeting of the Irish Academy of Management.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Human Participants and Animal Studies

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Business AdministrationOakland UniversityRochesterUSA

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