Trauma – A Guide for Employers and Managers

Trauma – A Guide for Employers and Managers

The recent catastrophic earthquake in Turkey and Syria has had a devastating impact on individuals and communities. Our hearts go out to those who have been affected and are struggling to cope in the aftermath. This article aims to help as a guide for employers and managers, where their staff are coping with the trauma of these tragic, recent events.

We at Life & Progress feel it is our responsibility to provide help, guidance and resources to those struggling in the wake of this tragedy. Traumatic events such as this have a serious mental and physical effect on individuals, and this guide provides some insight on managing trauma in the workplace. We hope to give employers and managers some advice on how to effectively support those affected by the earthquake, allowing them to feel secure and comfortable in the workplace.

We hope this guide will provide some useful information but encourage everyone to reach out for further support and guidance if needed. We stand in solidarity with those impacted and their families to get through this difficult time.

 

The impact of trauma

Trauma is used to describe an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced as physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening, overwhelms our ability to cope, and has lasting adverse effects on a person’s mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.

The very nature of trauma, particularly when it revolves around something so sudden, is that it is unexpected and can cause a cascade of difficult emotions and responses as we try to cope with often rapidly changing situations.

Your business continuity crisis management plan will certainly help you when faced with a real-life traumatic event but is also important to acknowledge how overwhelmed you and your colleagues might be feeling when faced with the reality of the situation.

 

Signs of trauma to look out for in yourself and staff

It is totally normal when under extreme stress for our body’s nervous system to react as it feels under threat. Your body can release a rush of chemicals that activates natural responses in us (fight, flight or freeze reactions). Some examples:

  • Feeling angry and wanting to lash out at others as things feel out of control
  • Feeling anxious, scanning for danger and being hyper vigilant of your surroundings
  • Not feeling emotionally present, feeling spacey or distant from those around you
  • Experiencing physical symptoms (restlessness, rapid breathing, inability to sleep or eat) making it harder to focus or concentrate on work
  • Limiting and isolating behaviours such as feeling less sure of yourself and your abilities, feeling withdrawn from family or colleagues or not enjoying normal activities that have previously helped you relax

It is important to recognise that these responses are a perfectly normal reaction to a traumatic event. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help and support if they become overwhelming. Trauma symptoms usually decrease after the first month, but if you are in a prolonged traumatic environment, they can continue. It can be very helpful to talk them through with a colleague or professional.

 

Managerial responsibility

As a manager you will have the dual responsibility of managing an increased workload and caring for your teams coping with the impact of the traumatic event on themselves and their families. This will have an impact on you in many ways – increasing fatigue levels and it is essential that you allow yourself to find support both at work and at home where possible. The feelings that you experience will often be mirrored in your staff – and can be a very useful guide for you in how you communicate and relate with colleagues. Watch your own coping mechanisms (alcohol, drugs, food) and those of your teams.

 

Communicate clearly

Where possible ensure that communications to your teams are regular and frequent. When staff are unsettled it is crucial for them to have a clear understanding of your expectations, where they can find support and whether there are changes in their responsibilities.

Feeling connected

Create space for teams to come together to speak about what they are experiencing so they don’t feel alone in their experience. This maybe even more necessary if your business has remained remote since the pandemic.

Being there for one another

In times of crisis, we often want to control or fix an impossible situation. As a manager you may have to hold the uncertainty for staff – but remember that regular conversations between colleagues are very helpful to keep up morale, connectivity and some normality amongst a scary situation.

Signpost

If staff members or colleagues need professional support, share with them details of where they can go for support such as the counselling and online wellbeing resources your organisation has available. EAP helpline details should be circulated.

Be available and visible

As a manager make yourself more available to staff in order that they can approach you as needed. This could be by having an open-door policy on a certain day of the week or inviting staff to reach out via email/online call.

 

Promote wellbeing

Encourage staff to take breaks, not over-work when coping with an unsafe environment and limit their intake of difficult news via media channels. Remind teams of good sleep hygiene, healthy eating and regular exercise, fresh air, and social interaction where at all possible.

 

Grounding exercises

Trauma can be held in the body, and it can be very helpful to share some simple grounding exercises with your teams at times of crisis. It’s important to remember different stress reduction approaches work for different people. Example exercises:

  1. Feel your feet into the floor – slowly by placing the heel and then the balls of the feet and the toes one by one to feel the support and connection to the earth beneath.
  2. Put a hand over your heart to feel connected to your body.
  3. The butterfly hug – cross your arms over your body so opposite hands are on your shoulders and rub down your arms for up to five minutes. This technique helps to promote a feeling of safety within the body and can calm the nervous system.
  4. The 5 senses exercise – if you are feeling overwhelmed it can be helpful to name something you can see/ taste/ touch/ hear/ smell in that immediate moment to help you stay present. This is a mindfulness-based technique to help stop ruminations of difficult or distressing thoughts.

 

Contact us

At Life & Progress, we understand the impact of trauma and are here to help. Our team of wellbeing professionals are available to provide resources, expert advice, and health-related services to support your organisation and its people. We will be here to provide a comprehensive response, helping to provide emotional comfort for those affected as well as provide strategies to move forward in the aftermath of this disaster.

If you need help with managing the aftermath of this tragedy, please get in touch with us. We are here to provide emotional, physical, and mental help to you, your organisation and those affected by the earthquake. Our team can provide expertise and resources to help get you through this difficult and challenging time.

Take the first step to get help and contact us today to see how Life & Progress can help you and your organisation.

For more details contact us for a no-obligation meeting in person or online, on how we can help you.
0808 164 3941 | service@lifeandprogress.co.uk

 

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