How Business Leaders Can Help Employees Struggling With PTSD

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is a mental health condition. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is anxiety brought on by very stressful, frightful, or upsetting situations, according to the NHS. 

In dreams and flashbacks, a person with PTSD often relives the terrible event and may also feel lonely, irritable, and guilty.

Those who have served in the military or who have gone through a terrible incident in their own lives are more likely to experience this. Yet, PTSD may also result from one’s place of employment.

As a result of the fact that we spend the majority of our day, week, month, and year there, the workplace serves as a community.

We might all be impacted by tragic occurrences that take place at work or in our environment. 

A few instances of traumatic situations that impact people at work are racially motivated shootings, widespread health problems, and watching a colleague being subjected to domestic or sexual assault or harassment. 

It’s critical to keep in mind that colleagues and employees are complex, emotional humans who need to feel supported and comfortable. Here are some strategies that businesses and managers may use to help employees struggling with PTSD. 

Recognize what happened

David Farkas, the founder of The Upper Ranks recommends recognizing what happened first. 

He shares: “Mention the fact that something happened that has an influence on the employees and the workplace. 

The key to completing this stage is to check in with the victim or individual who has suffered injury or trauma and just listen. 

Take the lead of the individual who is suffering trauma or violence and be open and accessible to them. The most crucial factors are their privacy and safety.

Tell the truth while maintaining confidentially when talking about anything that occurred at work or to a worker, and only divulge information that is absolutely essential. 

This demonstrates respect for those impacted and may assist in ending rumors that might endanger those directly engaged. 

Also, this may lessen the chance of retraumatizing those who have already experienced traumatic events. 

Recognize the occurrence when it occurs outside of the workplace while keeping in mind that such events, especially those involving people’s identities, will affect employees’ stress levels and health. 

When mentioning instances that occurred outside of the workplace, such as a racially motivated murder or a mass shooting, be explicit, unambiguous, and direct. 

Instead of using a generalization like “This week has been tough for many of us,” specifically identify the occurrence and those who were affected by expressing something like “We are mourning the loss of (person), a lady who was shot by the police in her house.”

People may feel more at peace if the occurrence is acknowledged and the workplace’s reaction is shared since it shows that something has occurred and that action is being made.” 

Ensure that help is available

Whether they are virtual, in-person, or part of a real network of care on par with physical-health assistance, mental health services are essential. Everyone should have access to reliable services in a setting with less stigma. 

Organizations that haven’t previously extended such services should do so since the variety of digital tools that are now accessible is beneficial.

Educate and train managers to identify PTSD

Marie Littlewood, Director at NSI shares: “Education programs are designed to support teams through particular problems, including addiction or suicide, assist staff in coping with trauma, and teach managers how to lead under pressure. 

Managers should talk to their teams to find out where any potential problems are. Also, businesses should spend money educating middle managers to listen and sympathize more effectively. It is worth investing in since it does not come easily.” 

Develop your emotional intelligence

Use empathy, not pity, when starting or leading talks about horrific events. Supervisors and colleagues often try to “fix” things in an effort to be helpful, but this might appear invalidating or too goal-oriented. 

Strive to abandon this solution-focused mentality and adopt an approach characterized by empathy, compassion, and active listening. Make sure folks know you’re there for them and that you’ll support them in the ways that seem right to them. 

Ask your team members, for instance, “What would be most useful right now? ” before providing any comments.

Be cautious of “toxic positivity” while entering these talks. 

Pushing a “positive outlook” to the point of eliminating or disregarding the current problem is a practice known as toxic optimism. 

Often, toxic optimistic remarks begin with “At least…” or conclude with a command to “Be strong” or “Be positive.” 

Toxic positive affirmations may be spread in an effort to be helpful, but they often have the opposite impact and might suggest that you are not completely present or paying attention.

Practice emotional intelligence to prevent this. Consider your emotional self and how you express and understand difficult emotions such as shock, sadness, and fury.

Give them a feeling of direction

Carl Jensen, founder of Compare Banks believes in giving employees direction. 

He shares: “Giving employees a feeling of purpose at work may help protect them from the effects of trauma. People frequently struggle less when their goals are clear.

For team members to feel that their lives have a purpose, it is crucial for team leaders to consider if the team’s mission is being properly stated and motivated. They are here for a purpose, and they act in the way they do for a reason.

Throughout the pandemic, this has done well with healthcare providers and first responders. The employees are supporting a coordinated, life-saving effort to combat the pandemic. 

Even individuals away from friends and family were able to better control their stress.

This may include hosting corporate lunches or even organizing activities for staff members away from the office. This gives the employer the chance to learn more about their staff and get some understanding of who they are as people.” 

Respect the time of workers

Sam Willis, a writer at Raincatcher states: “Workers are eligible for paid time off (PTO) and sick days. Let the employee take the time off if they requested it without interfering with their workday. 

Additionally, unless there is an emergency, avoid contacting someone about work if it is after hours.”

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