It’s been an absolute horrific few weeks and no glib opening sentence to an online article can convey or do justice to the absolute terror and disgusting acts we have seen recently.  This website is not the place to receive advice on how to talk to anyone about despicable acts, but we did reach out to discuss one element you can control – which is how to include emotional support in your crisis management plans.

As the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NACTSO) updated the UK’s raised threat status to ‘critical’ following the nightmare events, it means we have time to reflect on what a crisis management and business continuity plan looks like in 2017. We are focused on the practical elements of a crisis such as power, essential services and IT backup arrangements, but are we overlooking steps to support the psychological and emotional needs of staff exposed to trauma and distress? We spoke to Colin Grange, Clinical Director of EAP and Wellbeing provider, LifeWorks to see what he would reccommend.

“Giving the right support to staff who have been exposed to a traumatic event is critical in reducing long-term emotional damage.

“Although the majority of people will return to normal after a period of recovery, for some there may be an impairment in their capacity to cope with everyday life and some may even develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).”

Grange advises that companies prepare a continuity plan which includes the component of support for staff that not only covers how to deal with staff emotional and psychological needs as an incident unfolds, but importantly, how to support and reassure them in the days/weeks after an incident.

A critical incident review which should include:

  • An analysis of recent critical incidents experienced by the organisation and how they were managed.
  • A risk assessment of potential critical incidents that may occur in the future and how these will be managed internally. 
  • A review of any existing business resumption/disaster recovery plans to enable emotional and psychological support to dovetail in with such plans.
  • A review of the training needs of key staff, for example, HR staff, Occupational Health staff, and importantly, line managers, in the handling of critical incidents.  It is vital to train managers in how to provide immediate support as initially staff turn to their managers for guidance and support in the event of a traumatic event.  
  • A review of support services and support agencies that are available to employees.

Develop a clear plan as to how a traumatic incident should be managed. This should include:

  • A clear procedure as to how the organisation will internally deal with a traumatic event.  In particular, how managers will guide and support staff.
  • An agreed procedure for triggering the response from professional support services such as an EAP provider or other critical incident specialists.
  • A specific training programme for key staff following a training needs analysis.  Such training should focus on the nature of traumatic events, how to support staff during and immediately after an incident, the signs and symptoms of post-trauma and how to support staff appropriately in the days and weeks after an incident

Grange adds, “As with all crisis management, the better prepared HR departments are in advance of a crisis event happening, the better the psychological and emotional outcome for employees. Good support after a traumatic event benefits the individual employee by preventing normal emotional reactions becoming more serious and distressing.  Equally, the employer benefits by reducing the need for staff to take time off work, or being less productive and effective at work.”

For more information about the Government’s terrorist advice go to:

For more information and advice on protecting your business or organisation from the terrorist threat visit the NACTSO website.

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