Unfortunately, organisations can find themselves in situations where they need to deal with sudden and sad events in the workplace. While there is often a desire to provide support to assist employees in their recovery from these events, sometimes organisation’s may not have the professional knowledge of how to provide this support. Our aim in sharing this story is to demonstrate how assistance can be provided, to help benefit all who are involved. Please contact us should you wish to discuss this subject in any further detail.
A company experiences a sudden loss of an employee
A valued member of a company suffered a fatal heart attack outside of work hours. He was in the presence of his friend who was also an employee of the company. The gentleman was a well-liked team member, family man, with young children. Following this tragic situation, the man’s family, friends and colleagues were very shaken and extremely upset by the unexpected loss.
Providing support within a male dominated industry
Inside predominantly male dominated workplaces there is often a negative stigma attached to being upset and expressing feelings.
Being a company with a ‘masculine’ culture, the following day many of the employees were feeling shocked and devastated by the loss of a friend, but found it hard to acknowledge or show their emotions in front of their colleagues.
A Recovery Partners Psychologist was immediately called into the company to engage with this culture and provide counselling and critical incidence response to those that needed it, as part of the company’s Employee Assistance Program.
After debriefing with the manager about the incident and the culture of the company, the Psychologist understood that many of the employees would not be keen to share their feelings, and therefore approached the situation as a supportive, understanding and friendly face.
The Psychologist assured the staff that the emotions they were feeling were completely normal in response to the sudden tragic passing of their friend and colleague. She invited all of the staff to speak with her throughout the day, reassuring them that her door was open if they simply wanted to have a break or a casual chat. This encouraged many of the staff to approach the Psychologist, where she provided counselling and helped them understand what they were going through.
To those who chose to approach the Psychologist with guises such as “you look like you could do with some company”, the Psychologist quickly obliged and an encouraging chat ensued. During the chats with these staff members, the Psychologist subtly mentioned symptoms that they may experience over the next few days and helpful strategies that could help them cope.
Each member of the company was provided with the support and information they needed.
Several staff members at the company chose to speak to the Recovery Partners Psychologist throughout the day to receive counselling and emotional support.
The Psychologist wanted to ensure that all staff members were supported, so she developed a fact sheet about responding to traumatic experiences. This guide was passed around to each of the employees to ensure that they had some more information about what they may be going through, as well as some strategies of how to cope in the weeks following the tragic event.
We would like to share this information pack for organisations to use when the need arises.
We hope this story demonstrates how important providing appropriate critical incident support is following a tragic event, and how it can help your employees.
Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at www.workcover.nsw.au
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