When Tragedy Strikes: How Small Business Owners Can Support Their Team During Times of Crisis

Posted on May 5, 2013 by Caitlin C

Dealing with Grief and Tragedy in the WorkplaceThe power of leading a small to medium company comes from the deep personal relationships that can form as a result of getting to know your team. When a member of your business is affected by a personal tragedy, or when your entire workplace experiences the fallout from a community wide event, your employees look to their team leader to establish safety and trust in the workplace. So how can good small business owners keep their team safe and supported during times of crisis and healing?

Crystal Clear Emergency Procedures

For starters, it’s key to have a clear emergency plan in place that all employees are familiar with. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers some good resources to begin your emergency plan, but your procedures will vary widely depending on your individual business. You may want to hire writers with experience interpreting the needs of a small business to craft a strong plan your whole company can get behind. Be sure to devote adequate time to reviewing all aspects of this plan and getting your employees comfortable with any roles and responsibilities they’ll need to take on in the event of crisis. Spending time together discussing solutions for worst case scenarios can actually make your employees feel safer and more secure.

Hope and Healing

After a tragic event, whether a natural disaster, senseless act of violence, or a personal loss within your team, it’s important that you act with care and respect to help your employees heal. Your response will depend on the exact nature of the event and your company’s unique workplace culture, but you may consider doing one or more of the following:

  • Give Information. Whether in a face-to-face meeting or via an internal memo, be sure your people have all the facts surrounding the event that’s affected your workplace. This is also a good time to make clear that you’re a resource for people who are struggling with stress or grief.
  • Bring in Resources. Depending on the severity of the tragedy, you might consider bringing in professional support to help your team in their time of crisis. A professional counselor can help your employees safely process uncomfortable feelings of grief, anger, or sadness.
  • Give Time. People process tragic events in different ways. Realize that you may need to sacrifice productivity to allow your staff time to cope when they’re dealing with a personal or community wide tragedy; your team will be stronger and more resilient in the end.

Caitlin C is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.


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