Dealing With Crisis or Tragedy in the Workplace
There are a lot of office managers for HR staffing agencies and direct hire employment agencies that do not know how to deal with a workplace crisis or tragedy when one happens. Traumatic events can trigger a fight or flight reflex at any given moment for an employee who was subjected to trauma while at work.
Teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut are a prime example of workplace trauma, and the anniversary date of these traumatic events, resonate fear that only those living with it can understand. Trauma can change our lives in ways that don’t make any sense, and it leaves people questioning their own existence. We lose close friends, family, and some of us lose someone we loved to the ends of the earth. In a lot of cases, office managers for HR staffing agencies and direct hire employment agencies have no direct connection with their employees.
As an office manager, you should prepare yourself for these types of situations and understand the impact this has on your employees. Every person’s involvement or experience in traumatic events are personal and unique to that individual, and so is our own reaction. Reminders of the event will get stronger as the anniversary date looms near, and handling the emotional human aftermath for such tragic events can test the strength in the best of us.
As anniversary dates of a crisis or tragedy in the workplace approaches, reminders will be all over the news and on every street corner, we walk on. Magazines and newspapers will remind us with haunting headlines, graphic photographs, and harrowing stories. The office mailbox will be flooded with requests for donations and special ceremonies will be held in our neighborhood with memories that permeate deep in our hearts.
As the office manager, it’s your job to keep the business going. You need to find a way to balance the business and the human level of these traumatic events in the workplace. One way you can do this is by knowing the signs of your employee’s reactions during an impending anniversary date. Below is a list of some common signs and reactions that can help you understand what your employee is going through.
Common Signs and Indicators
- Over-protectiveness of family
- Frustration or anger
- Anxiety about separation from loved ones
- Anxiety about past experiences
- Fear of reminders
- Preoccupation with thoughts about the event
- Fear of recurrence
- A desire to honor loved ones and their memory
Behavioral and Physical Reactions
- Physical illness (backaches, headaches, nausea, vomiting, etc)
- Extreme sensitivity to sound, light, or somebody behind us
Below are some more reactions that can have a dramatic increase in:
- Workplace conflict
- Substance-abuse related issues
- Workplace absenteeism
Being an office manager for HR staffing agencies and direct hire employment agencies requires a lot of people skills and hats of many colors; furthermore, it’s vital to acknowledge that your employees need to take personal responsibility for workplace behavior. Take a realistic approach with your own expectations and those of your employees. Some company policies may allow their office managers to be more adaptive and understanding when an employee who suffered a traumatic event at your place of business, needs to leave early or take an extended break.
To be the best office manager in these types of situations, it’s always best to have compassion and hold special events that reflect the “good times” of the people lost. Talk with your management team or HR department and come up with a catered event on the anniversary date. Make the best out of a bad situation and show your employees that your business cares about them. Tragic events are an unfortunate part of life and learning how to help others get through them, can make you think about your job title, on a human level.