It’s estimated that 50-70% of people will experience a trauma at some point in their life. – PTSD UK
Supporting colleagues through trauma can be challenging but when over 50% of the workforce will experience a trauma during their lives, it is also essential. Traumatic events can happen anywhere, anytime, and can have a profound impact on individuals, affecting their emotional wellbeing and work performance. As coworkers, it is crucial to offer compassion, understanding and practical assistance during such difficult times.
As well as showing understanding towards employees dealing with trauma in their personal lives, managing traumatic events that happen in the workplace requires appropriate critical incident support if you wish to reduce the risk of employees developing psychological injuries.
How you respond in the aftermath of a traumatic event in the workplace will have a significant impact on the recovery of those colleagues affected.
We explore the top tips for effectively supporting colleagues through trauma – fostering a supportive and safe working environment.
Respect Their Privacy and Boundaries
While offering support, it is vital to respect your colleague’s privacy and boundaries. Understand that they may not be ready to share the details of their trauma right away. Allow them to set the pace and avoid pressuring them to talk if they are not comfortable doing so. Showing respect for their boundaries demonstrates that you value their wellbeing.
Offer Practical Assistance
During traumatic times, everyday tasks can become overwhelming for your colleague. Offering practical assistance, such as helping with workload, covering shifts, or organising support from other colleagues can make a significant difference. By easing their immediate burdens, you allow them to focus on their healing process without worrying about work-related stressors.
Provide Resources for Professional Help
While being supportive is essential, remember that you are not a trained therapist or counsellor. Encourage your colleague to seek professional help if needed. Provide them with information about available resources, such as PAM Wellbeing’s Employee Assistance Programme. Additionally, line managers can contact the Trauma and Critical Incident Team at PAM Wellbeing who can provide both remote and onsite support, as well as individual one-to-one support for any colleagues that may have been exposed to a traumatic event.
Be Patient and Empathetic
Dealing with trauma can be a complicated process, and recovery timelines vary for each person. Be patient with your colleague and avoid pressuring them to “move on” or “get over” their trauma quickly. Show empathy by acknowledging that healing takes time and that you are there to support them throughout their journey.
Avoid Gossip and Speculation
Respect your colleague’s privacy by refraining from gossiping or speculating about their trauma with other coworkers. Sharing sensitive information can be harmful and lead to rumours that may further exacerbate their distress. Keep conversations about your colleague’s situation confidential and focused on providing support.
Create a Supportive Workplace
Building a workplace that offers strong support is essential for helping colleagues cope with trauma. Encourage open communication, empathy and teamwork among coworkers. Demonstrating the support and resources you have in place helps create psychological safety for individuals.
Remember that each person’s experience is unique, so tailor your support to their needs. By working together as a compassionate and understanding team, you can create a workplace where colleagues feel valued, supported and empowered to overcome life’s challenges.
To find out more about PAM Wellbeing’s Trauma Services and Critical Incident Support, please get in touch today to explore how our in-house team can support with psychological and emotional trauma within your organisation.