February 14, 2017

Have You Ever Had a Trauma in Your Shop?

By Paul Bieber

Trauma affects you and everyone in your company. Every company will have a trauma event at some time. Here is how to recognize it and be ready for the impact. 

Trauma can be:

  • Violence within your company;
  • A non-expected death of any employee, especially if due to a workplace accident or violence;
  • Flood, fire, hurricanes or tornadoes, or industrial contamination;
  • An injury at your company or job site; and/or
  • A crime or terrorist activity, whether at your company or nearby.

And the results can be:

  • Employee depression, resulting in poor workplace results;
  • Increased absenteeism, as employees don’t want to be around the place where an event took place;
  • Anxiety and irritability; and/or
  • A reduction in workplace productivity, directly affecting sales and profits.

So, what can you do as a leader?  Show your employees, through your own actions, that it is OK to grieve or be upset, for a period of time.  You can’t say, “let’s go back to work and forget about it.”  Recognize that each employee will react differently.  The old expression, “time heals all wounds” doesn’t apply to the work environment.  The “time” can last a lot longer than you might expect in your work environment. 

It is OK to talk about emotions and sadness.  It is OK to wear your heart on your sleeve. 

But, there are times and circumstances where you will need specialized help.  In your black book of names you should have a grief counselor listed.  If you don’t know one, call your insurance agent or lawyer for help.  Your health insurance should cover this cost.  Pay your employees the co-pay part of this.  It is better to get your employees back to work quickly than worry about this co-pay amount.

Do you have an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP)?  If so, make sure your team calls with any questions on any subjects relating to the trauma event. 

If this was an in-house accident, review all of your safety procedures and plans.  Obviously, something didn’t work right.  (Also, be prepared for a quick visit from OSHA.)  Your quick and effective resolution to this problem will give a secure feeling to the rest of your team.

In many states workplace-caused depression or anxiety is covered under Worker’s Comp.  You don’t want to bring this up, but it will probably surface from someone’s cousin who is a lawyer.  This is the most expensive problem resolution you can face.  If you work with your employees, honestly sharing compassion and uplifting thoughts, you, your employees and your company will be better off.

On a lighter note, Spring Training started this week. Yea!