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How EAPs can help in times of crises

By Charles Benayon


Today, there is an increasing number of traumatic events that affect our daily lives. These events are no longer regulated to the home or the workplace, but are unfortunately becoming more frequent in the community. When a crisis takes place, it’s important for Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) to support employees, as well as the community.

Actions to be taken include crisis management, counselling services, coaching for specific coping strategies, advocacy and community support.


Exploring the necessity for crisis management

A crisis can occur anytime, anywhere. Even if a crisis does not immediately impact the team, the effects can still be felt among employees. This is the difference between being directly impacted and indirectly impacted by a crisis. Direct impact means that a crisis will affect employees on a personal level (e.g. the sudden death of a fellow employee) and indirect impact means that employees are affected by a crisis that has occurred outside of their scope (e.g. a school shooting).

Employees hold other roles in addition to the one they hold in the workplace. They are parents, children, siblings, friends, and above all, they are individuals. As individuals, they show distress and discomfort in their own visible and non-visible ways, and often in their own time. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health concern that can occur as a result of unresolved or unaddressed trauma. The effects of this disorder can be long lasting, and in some cases, harmful. It’s crucial that HR leaders address any crisis situation immediately. Addressing a crisis with employees and offering them EAP services can help to decrease the potentially chronic effects of trauma.

If a crisis occurs at a distance, it can be traumatizing for the community as a whole, as many people can have personal experiences that relate to the crisis itself. Peer and community support are important in moving towards healing, especially for any employee who feels as though they have been immediately impacted by tragedy. EAP providers can facilitate the community support needed for employees to recover from a traumatizing event through crisis intervention, counselling services, medical referrals and follow-ups.


Steps towards effective crisis management and intervention

The dialogue regarding crises needs to revolve around what the specific event means for the workplace and its employees. There is opportunity to open the lines of communication to help identify the specific needs of each employee regarding the crisis and its ultimate impact. This will include providing communication and informative updates to the staff.

It is crucial to help employees work through their reactions to crises with the guidance of a professional counsellor. This can be best accomplished in a group setting where employees have the freedom to express themselves, while feeling that their emotions in regard to trauma are both validated and normalized.

In the aftermath of a traumatic event, EAPs provide support through counselling services to employees, their families and to the community. They also provide additional information (e.g. pamphlets, informative articles, etc.) and follow-up calls to employees who require additional support during their healing journey. An EAP can help HR managers with effective crisis management and intervention to best serve employees who are struggling. They can also provide support for those who do not immediately identify with the subsequent impact of a crisis.

It’s imperative for an employer to open lines of communication with their employees regarding the status of a crisis, as well as any progress or implications regarding future actions. This can be achieved through company communication vehicles such as live information meetings, email notifications and instant group chat apps, such as WhatsApp, BBM or iMessage. The goal is to ensure that every employee is aware of the status of a crisis. By maintaining and facilitating an open dialogue in regard to any movement in crisis management, employers will have insight into how they can better support their employees through trauma.


Further steps

In many cases, the healing work is ongoing. EAPs can provide effective coping skill support and training to employees, including extended counselling services and referrals to employees who may need medical support.

The collective healing process demonstrates a need for advocacy and community support measures. This offers insight to the continuing awareness of the effects of crises by bringing potentially chronic difficulties to light, including the long-term impact of trauma. However, these effects can be minimized through EAP services.

By heightening awareness, the community will be presented with a greater sense of safety and security, both inside and outside of the workplace. It’s important to allow time off for those beginning to heal, removing any direct pressure so that employees will be able to take the necessary time to begin their recovery process with EAP support.


Care and consideration can offer relief to those dealing with trauma

Protecting and supporting the workplace during and after a crisis (or crises) is an essential aspect of honouring each individual affected, both directly and indirectly. An EAP provider is a crucial element in offering the support needed by those impacted by traumatic circumstances. In conjunction with access to outside community support, HR can create positive changes in each employee’s life as they continue their healing journey.


Charles Benayon is the founder of Aspiria Corp.




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