When an individual goes through a traumatic event, it impacts all areas of their life including their personal and working lives. Living through a disturbing experience such as a non-fatal attempt at suicide, witnessing a traumatic event such as a murder or sudden death, experiencing bullying or harassment, surviving a disaster or an accident, being the victim of physical, sexual or emotional violence and many other scenarios can all take their toll on the mental health and wellbeing of any individual.
Often, these traumas are exacerbated, and symptoms of PTSD can be triggered by persistent noise, exposure to similar circumstances, flashing lights, exposure to shouting or something else, and it’s because of these factors that employers are required to support and respond appropriately to employees who are currently coping with trauma and who have recently returned to the workplace.
There are dozens of ways an employer can support an individual who is coping with trauma, click the link to find out more about mindfulness for trauma. And in this post, we’ll explore some simple, but highly effective approaches. Read on to find out more.
Provide support from the outset
When someone we know has experienced a traumatic event, friends, family and even acquaintances rush around to offer as much support as possible. While you may also want to jump in, this approach isn’t always welcomed or wanted. As an employer, there are ways you can show support in the early days without overstepping boundaries. This could be:
- Establishing contact and keeping the lines of communication open
- Offering the employee space and the opportunity to informally discuss the event at their discretion
- Ensure that their needs and workplace requirements are met, physically and emotionally
- Avoid discussing the event with other colleagues, unless the event impacts others and the working environment, and then, give no specific details. The employee’s privacy should be respected and preserved at all times
Create clear and communicative work arrangements
Whether the employee chooses to have paid, unpaid leave or decides to continue working is up to the person in question. However, each case and coping strategy is different, therefore if they continue to work you should consider discussing their workload, or any potential problems they might have working under pressure. Providing options such as additional flexibility and even home working options could also be beneficial.
Provide ongoing support
Support from all areas of their life, including family, friends and colleagues can significantly help the healing process. There are multiple ways employers can provide ongoing support for employees who have experienced trauma including:
- Encouraging them to seek specialist support if they seem to be persistently struggling
- Signposting them to health and mental wellbeing services
- Maintaining open lines of communication and support
- Taking a pro-mental health stance for all employees
- Remembering that every experience is completely unique
Managing employees who have experienced a traumatic event should be treated fairly and with respect. Employers should tailor their approach to each case and avoid forcing advice and policies on them.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg. He tweets @dennisr_howell.
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