It is hard to turn on the news and not feel concerned. It is an unfortunate fact of life that disasters and tragedies happen. Sometimes we have warning, like the recent hurricanes that have hit much of the country. Even though we knew they were coming, we still can’t always prepare ourselves for the aftermath of these natural disasters.
Sometimes tragedy strikes when we least expect it and in places where we feel it shouldn’t. Ordinary people, doing ordinary things are hurt or worse. I’m sure everyone can tell you where they were when 9/11 happened, or when they found out about the school shooting in Newtown, as well as the recent shootings in Orlando and Las Vegas. These events affect us even if we don’t have a personal connection.
We spend much of our time in the office. So when these tragedies strike, what can we do to help the well-being of our staff and employees?
Take time to address the company as a whole. This can accomplish two things. First, information can be given to everyone at the same time. Second, it allows management to assess the mood of staff.
Express your condolences if necessary. Even if an event is not local to the office, staff may have relatives or friends who have been directly impacted.
Take the time to reiterate the core values of your company. This is not the time for getting on a political soap-box; but think about what is valued in your company culture? Communication? High ethical standards? Collaboration? Being able to focus on these positive qualities can help bring people together.
If there is an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) be sure your employees know how to access it. Some programs may even offer in-house counseling. Explore the options that make the most sense for your company.
Make sure HR managers and staff are available. Pay a little more attention to people’s moods and don’t be afraid to personally ask if everything is ok.
Employees are going to be distracted. They will want to keep current with the news. Providing a place where they can gather and talk can help minimize distractions in office work areas.
Be sure you have plans in place for fire evacuations, as well as any natural disaster that could happen in your area. Make sure employees are trained and familiar with the plan.
Call in an expert. We may not always know what the best practices are to keep our workplaces safe. Finding someone knowledgeable in workplace safety to conduct a course provides valuable information and can help increase the confidence level of your employees. De Novo HRConsulting can help you in this area.
Make a contribution of some kind. You can organize a company blood drive (helpful no matter what the circumstances), a food drive, or the company can offer matching funds to any money donated to a relief organization. Focusing on how we can help also helps us work through grief.
Providing a safe work environment is an important responsibility. It is impossible to plan for all scenarios that could happen. Being well prepared is important as we try to prevent the catastrophes we can and respond to those that may happen. Providing resources to help the mental well-being of staff and employees following any sort of disaster or tragedy is equally as important.