Employers urged to add emotional support to crisis management plans

Published by: LifeWorks,

As the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NACTSO) updates its safety advice* for employers due to the UK’s raised threat status to ‘critical’** following the horrendous bombing in Manchester, employers are urged to ensure they have a plan to support employees emotionally following a traumatic event.

Most crisis management and business continuity plans are focused on the practical elements of a crisis such as power, essential services and IT backup arrangements, often overlooking steps to support the psychological and emotional needs of staff exposed to trauma and distress.

Colin Grange, Clinical Director of EAP and Wellbeing provider, LifeWorks says, “Giving the right support to staff who have been exposed to a traumatic event is critical in reducing long-term emotional damage.

“Although the majority of people will return to normal after a period of recovery, for some there may be an impairment in their capacity to cope with everyday life and some may even develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).”

Grange advises that companies prepare a continuity plan which includes the component of support for staff that not only covers how to deal with staff emotional and psychological needs as an incident unfolds, but importantly, how to support and reassure them in the days/weeks after an incident.

Conduct a critical incident review which should include:

  • An analysis of recent critical incidents experienced by the organisation and how they were managed.
  • A risk assessment of potential critical incidents that may occur in the future and how these will be managed internally.
  • A review of any existing business resumption/disaster recovery plans to enable emotional and psychological support to dovetail in with such plans.
  • A review of the training needs of key staff, for example, HR staff, Occupational Health staff, and importantly, line managers, in the handling of critical incidents.  It is vital to train managers in how to provide immediate support as initially staff turn to their managers for guidance and support in the event of a traumatic event.
  • A review of support services and support agencies that are available to employees.

Develop a clear plan as to how a traumatic incident should be managed. This should include:

  • A clear procedure as to how the organisation will internally deal with a traumatic event.  In particular, how managers will guide and support staff.
  • An agreed procedure for triggering the response from professional support services such as an EAP provider or other critical incident specialists.
  • A specific training programme for key staff following a training needs analysis.  Such training should focus on the nature of traumatic events, how to support staff during and immediately after an incident, the signs and symptoms of post-trauma and how to support staff appropriately in the days and weeks after an incident.

Grange adds, “As with all crisis management, the better prepared HR departments are in advance of a crisis event happening, the better the psychological and emotional outcome for employees. Good support after a traumatic event benefits the individual employee by preventing normal emotional reactions becoming more serious and distressing.  Equally, the employer benefits by reducing the need for staff to take time off work, or being less productive and effective at work.”

For more information about the Government’s terrorist advice go to:  www.gov.uk/government/publications/recognising-the-terrorist-threat/recognising-the-terrorist-threat

Ends.

*23rd May, NACTSO Update: “It is important that businesses reassure their staff to ensure they are alert, but not alarmed. This is the right moment for businesses to review their security plans to ensure that the measures they should already have in place, are still current and have been tested to ensure staff are prepared and confident. For more information and advice on protecting your business or organisation from the terrorist threat visit the NACTSO website.”
(www.gov.uk/government/news/manchester-arena-incident)

**The threat level to the UK has been raised to ‘critical’ by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre.  It means that their assessment is not only that an attack remains highly likely, but a further attack may be imminent.  (www.gov.uk)

For further information contact: Sue.laybourne@lifeworks.com 07717 327 302 or Nicholas.Joelson@lifeworks.com 07906 117 923

LifeWorks is an all-in-one holistic wellbeing solution that delivers everyday wellbeing for employees. Across North America and the UK.  It services 49,000 businesses, provides a network of 20,000+ clinical experts and 16,000 retail merchant partnerships.

The LifeWorks service provides on-site assistance for traumatic incidents, such as a death on site due to an accident, robberies, terrorist attacks or staff who have been the victims of violence at work. It has over twenty-five years of workplace experience in consulting on the management of critical incidents.

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