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Risk in Context

Resiliency Plans Following Violent Acts Should Include Humanitarian Support

Posted by Renata Elias September 23, 2016

Recent bombings and knife attacks in New York, New Jersey, and Minnesota did more than shatter windows and injure dozens of people: They struck at the public’s confidence and sense of security, reminding many that terrorism can happen anywhere and at any time. They also were reminders that organizations need to have a resiliency program in place, including a crisis management plan and a plan to provide humanitarian support to your people in the aftermath of a terrorist attack or other violent event.

Be Proactive

For organizations, people are the number one asset. Specifically, when organizations plan, they should take steps to help ensure employees are safe and secure at all three-stages — before, during, and after an event. The bulk of the work occurs in the “before” stage, but execution of a plan happens during and after the crisis and may necessitate tapping into resources that you’re currently unfamiliar with.

As a part of a resiliency program, your organization’s crisis management plan may need to be activated after any serious event that may impact your organization, people, operations, and reputation. The plan’s objective is to ensure there is a process for the senior executive level team to make policy and strategy decisions related to the business and its employees. Members of a crisis management team will be the link to other response teams and your entire organization.

Psychological First Aid

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and others suggest providing psychological first aid to assess those employees in need of more assistance.  After a violent event some employees may experience anxiety, apathy, depression, panic, or anger, or find it difficult to concentrate.

Those at highest risk for trauma-related and other psychological problems include employees who:

  • Were present during the incident and may have feared for their lives.
  • Witnessed colleagues’ deaths or injuries.
  • Suffered a prior trauma in their lives.
  • Are routinely exposed to life-or-death situations.
  • Have a history of anxiety or depression.
  • Lack a support structure outside of work, such as family and friends with whom they can discuss the event.

Your human resources department can be helpful in working with employees at risk and providing support, especially after a traumatic incident. You should compile a list of local resources and accompanying procedures to help your employees during the post-incident phase. This could include such things as an employee check-in and a means to provide them with updated information.  

Any traumatic event is significant, even when there is no loss of life. Being attentive to your employees’ wellbeing will help your organization thrive.

Related to:  Marsh Risk Consulting

Renata Elias