This is no specific timetable for recovering from a traumatic event. Individuals may vary significantly in their recovery process based on a number of factors. Most people have intense but normal reactions to an abnormal event. With information, good support, coping skills and self-care, the majority of people will be able to return to a level of functioning where they can adequately and safely perform their job duties within the first two weeks. While some individuals may require longer to reach a baseline of functioning, it is important to note that some aspects of recovery for most people may take months or even years and often require ongoing attention.
There are many things that may be useful or unique depending on the incident and your connection to it. Here is a general list that is a good place to start.
1. Inquire about their well-being.
2. Provide caring and empathic leadership.
3. Create opportunities for employees to support each other.
4. Address and express your own feelings about the incident.
5. Attend to your physical recovery.
6. Reach out to others for support.
7. Consult Employee Assistance and other available resources.
There are two main parts of communication to focus on during this time. First, provide information regularly and repeatedly. Our cognitive abilities are literally impaired when we are experiencing intense emotions. People often cannot remember or process information as well as the normally could. Be sure to share important information over and over in the aftermath of a significant event and whenever possible both verbally and in written form. Avoid overloading the message with too much content. Pick the one or two key elements you need to communicate and repeat them. The second critical aspect of communicating during this time is to listen carefully. People are looking for comfort and reassurance during these times. They will almost always tell you what they need. Compassionate and attentive responses to employees' needs during this time typically leads to a quicker recovery and a dedicated workgroup.
Employee Assistance consultants are a diverse team of licensed mental health professionals with graduate degrees in behavioral health and experience in organizational dynamics. We can provide assistance to individuals, managers, or entire workgroups. We offer counseling, consultation, onsite debriefings, referrals, resource identification, handouts, coaching, and ongoing support.