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The human factor in a crisis: How do you show you really care?

July 23, 2015 by Alex Johnson

Recent events such as the terrorist attack in Sousse and the Alton Tower’s roller coaster collision have bought into sharp relief the human face of a crisis. Understandably many companies start to think about their own crisis management response. What would we do if we were at the centre of that incident? How would we respond to the emotional needs of all of those affected?

The solution isn’t about trying to become a psychologist or grief counsellor overnight. However, by adopting some straightforward principles an organisation can be in a much stronger position to manage those who may be experiencing significant and ongoing trauma.

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Be alert to identifying and responding to signs of trauma

Be vigilant for symptoms of trauma and respond accordingly. Plans should be designed so that they are flexible enough to address trauma triggered by events which fall outside of pre-determined crisis categories.

Write a family welfare policy

Deciding what practical help you will offer to those impacted and their families ahead of time will allow you to act swiftly if the worst does happen. For example, empowering staff to implement pre-agreed policies on accommodation, travel and subsistence will ensure a quicker response and allow them to focus on caring for those affected.

Train employees to speak with people affected by a traumatic event

Employees can be your strongest asset in a crisis. They can provide practical help, support and information whilst also showing care and concern but only if they are properly trained and suited to the role in terms of experience and personal qualities.

Be prepared to communicate promptly, proactively and personally

Ensure any plans detail how you will communicate with those impacted so you can do so swiftly and proactively to avoid people relying on other (potentially less reliable) sources of information.

Genuine personal contact – ideally face to face or else over the telephone – is also critical. This genuine voice should also extend to the written word e.g. holding statements and your website as well as any media interviews – basically anything the outside world may see or hear.

Each crisis is different and each person will react differently but ensuring your organisation responds appropriately and consistently will ensure you minimise any further distress to those involved. For more tips on responding with care during a crisis download our white paper.


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