PRM Consulting

Tragedy and the Role of HR

Donnell Karimah

In the aftermath of recent mass shootings in Milwaukee, California, Buffalo and Texas, many workers are struggling not just in or near these communities, but everywhere. Such violence, often targeted at particular groups, contributes to the worsening mental health crisis and increases collective anxiety. Company and HR leaders are at the forefront when tragedy strikes and often respond with resources for employees who struggle to cope. From the effects of the pandemic to horrific events reported in the media, the impact of poor mental health practices can be felt nationwide.

To help address the issue of declining mental well being resulting from violent events, here are 5 workplace strategies that can help your employees through these difficult times:

  1.  Individual and/or Group check-ins – Simply stopping by their office (if you are onsite together), a simple email, video call, or phone call to your employees to just say hello, see how they are doing, and ask if they need any help dealing with anything. The “Human” in Human Resources is paramount right now…. remember the human aspect of this all. Acknowledging the difficulty is key.

  2. Share available mental health resources – Remind your employees of the company’s mental health resources and benefits. If you have an employee assistance program (EAP) , share the number for your employees to call for individual personalized assistance. For some group support, ask your EAP to assist you in organizing a group support/grief session with a crisis manager. Consider the multitude of online self-care, calming and wellbeing apps and share those with your employees as an additional resource.

  3. Work with managers to determine balance – Communicate and brainstorm with your managers about what can be done to support your employees.  Can you redistribute work for a short period? Can you offer some time off? Or an early dismissal?  An additional break time? Etc. If you are onsite, do you have a location where employees can go for a peaceful break? If working remotely, can you emulate the “peaceful break” electronically? What can be done to lighten the load for some temporary period as employees process and deal with the situation(s) around them.

  4. Reconsider your workplace safety and security strategies – If you have a policy or strategy, review it with leadership, managers, and employees. Get feedback on what should be added. If you don’t have one, start with a survey of your employees for ideas, and hire an HR consultant firm like PRM to assist. Get started so you have a strategy and plan in place. Communicate and update your plan regularly.

  5. Plan micro self-care events regularly – In the long term, think of activities that say to your employees “We want to help you.”, “We support your total personal health” and “ We are in this together”- i.e., free massages, special employee lunches, health/mental fair for employees, etc.

If you or workplace requires additional support and/or resources, please reach out to me to talk about more options.