Butler & Davis Consulting LLC

Leading Through Times of Unrest – Three Tips for Managing Trauma in the Workplace

The domestic terrorist attack at the Capitol Building was disturbing and pointed to the deep social and political divides in this country that cannot be excluded from the workplace. Also, considering that America has not seen an attack on the Capitol Building since 1812, these recent attacks on American Democracy could be contributing to your employees experiencing negative stress. This negative stress, also known as trauma, can show up in the workplace in many ways, including tardiness, mood changes, isolation from employees, and decreased productivity. Recognizing these mental health red flags is the first step to managing trauma in the workplace. 

However, now with times being so unprecedented…the pandemic, terrorist attacks on black people, and our democracy, it would be safe to assume your teammates are experiencing negative stress on some level. So business cannot be conducted as normal, because circumstances are not normal. Therefore our second suggestion is to have empathy for hiccups and mistakes. Speak to employees directly about performance and project issues. But do not micromanage the process or how work gets down. Does it really matter if your employee is more productive at 3 am than at 9 am? If the work is done and in on time, do not get bogged down in the details. 

Thirdly share your employee assistance program information with your team. And provide paid time off for your staff to attend any behavioral health or medical appointments. Remember, people may also have to take care of relatives during this time, so being flexible should partially decrease your stress. If you are a smaller company and do not have an employee assistance program contact your human resource department to get information about your behavioral health benefits and share it with your team. 

It is important to remember that 2020 was a year of unfamiliar times for everyone regardless of your team’s social-political affiliations. And many external factors influence people’s wellness and their ability to take care of themselves and their families.