Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 11th 2013 Contents B7
Tuesday, June 11, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
In our workplaces, more personal tragedies also
occur regularly. Coworkers and their family members
die. Customers file for bankruptcy and leave hun-
dreds unemployed. Manufacturing plants burn
down. Friends are diagnosed with terminal illnesses.
An incident of workplace violence leaves coworkers
While not as riveting and all-encompassing as
major, national tragedies, the more personal, clos-
er-to-home tragedies and the national, bigger-
than-life tragedies have much in common for people
National tragedies affect workplaces
To start, we frequently find out about national
tragedies while we are at work. We gather with
coworkers watching national news unfold on tel-
evisions and computer screens. We gather in groups
and talk about the event.
We share information and talk incessantly. We
reach out to understand how the tragedy is affecting
our associates. We look out for each other. As an
example, many of us watched the planes crash into
the World Trade Center while at work.
With the more personal tragedies, our actions
and wishes are likely less public, but there is that
same sense of wanting to do something to help
and not knowing what to do.
In most instances, for positive mental health, we
reach out to each other for friendship and support.
Sometimes, it’s the more personal tragedies about
which we feel the most inadequate. After all, they
are occurring right here - and we should be able
A national tragedy or a personal tragedy has a
huge impact at work. And, organisations can help
people successfully weather the tragedy. They can
ease the passage people experience during tragedy.
They can help people deal with the helplessness
and grief they experience during tragedy. They can
provide a support system to help prop people up
These ideas will help you help your employees
as they experience either a national tragedy or the
regular, life-changing tragedies that occur within
your own workplace.
Recommended actions during tragedy
Make sure people are safe
If the incident is happening in your workplace,
make certain people are safe before you do anything
else. Implement your disaster plan, ring the fire
alarm, do whatever your company emergency evac-
uation plan prescribes for safety. The plan should
designate a meeting location, where attendance
can be taken, so you know the members of your
work force are safe.
Cut people some slack
People cannot return to productive work imme-
diately upon hearing about a tragedy. If you expect
them to continue working, people will make errors
and mistakes because they are distracted by the
events or information. Don’t pretend. Just tell people
that it is all right to focus their energy on the hap-
pening. If you do this, most individuals will return
to productive work more quickly when their need
for information and interests are satisfied.
Assess the personal involvement of employees
If the tragedy impacts an individual personally,
offer release time, support, a ride, help obtaining
information, and anything else the individual appears
to need. For major and direct impacts on your
workplace, you may need to decide whether to
continue paying employees, even though they are
not working, for a period of time. You may offer
shelter, relocation, or other forms of compensation
during tragedy, too.
Give people information
If you can do so without totally disrupting work,
provide televisions and computer screens so workers
are informed about events as they unfold – even
if only in break rooms. In more personal tragedies,
give all employees as much information as possible,
as soon as the information is available. (I do not
mean providing employee confidential information,
but other information is essential.)
Information helps people process the events.
Turn on radios, broadcast breaking news over your
speaker system and recognise that people will call
friends and acquaintances to share information and
compare notes. The closer you are to the tragedy,
the more people will want to know.
These seven ideas will help you help your employ-
ees as they experience either a national tragedy or
the regular, life-changing tragedies that occur within
your own workplace.
Continued on Page B8
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