Support through a tragic event
Traumatic events disrupt lives physically and psychologically, creating intense emotional distress for individuals, families and whole communities. Organisations play a vital and valuable role in assisting and supporting their employees and their families in the immediate aftermath and in the days, weeks and months following tragic events.
The immediate focus is to ensure that everyone is safe. At this present time, particularly with intense media coverage and access to information on the internet, it’s important to acknowledge that this is a heightened state of emotion for everyone involved. It’s important to be aware that everyone will respond differently and everyone’s needs will be different, initially and over time. Being prepared to provide initial and long term support for people will enhance and promote their own personal coping strategies and resilience.
What your people will need right now is (download pdf version here):
- If needed, allow additional time at home to spend time with family and friends - this helps them to feel safe and connected, and reassure others of their safety.
- Make sure your people have access to support information and numbers - specifically the EAP and any other services you may have in place.
- Give people assurance that affected families will be supported in some form or another.
Over the coming days, and in time, what your people will need is for you to provide simple and accurate information on how to access services, specifically encourage, and make it easy to speak with a professional counsellor. Most people will not want to speak to a counsellor in the initial days or weeks as they support each other. It is in the long term when people need support from a counsellor or their Employee Assistance Program.
Create an environment that allows people to talk amongst themselves about fears and hopes related to the tragic events. Openly sharing with others has been known to promote personal recovery. There is also comfort in a shared community supporting one another.
Be mindful and respectful of individual needs. Some people may feel uncomfortable or scared of sharing their feelings. Remember that there is no right or wrong way to feel.
There may be feelings of anger and hopelessness; there will intense feelings of anxiety and fear.
- Establish an open-door policy that allows people to seek the appropriate care when needed.
- If possible and when appropriate try to establish normal routines as soon as possible.
- Encourage people to communicate their needs, rather than assume you know what their needs may be.
- Maintain communication if an employee is away for any length of time.
An incident of this nature has the power to entirely consume those involved, especially when it has an impact on one’s feeling of safety and one’s family. As leaders and managers, it is within our control to provide support, reassurance and caring. For further guidance download the pdf or call our Manager Support Hotline on 1800 650 204.