By Norbert Alicea, MA, CEAP, Executive Vice President, EAP+Work/Life Services
Amid the flurry of alarming disruptive events from hurricanes, floods, wildfires and other natural disasters, to acts of violence, a growing number of employers are recognizing the need to have a quick response in place to help employees impacted by a traumatic event. More organizations are turning to Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) for support to plan for these critical events and provide direct assistance to help employees recover, stay motivated, and create a path forward.
Although it’s not always possible to predict when a massive flood or other disruptive incident may occur, Health Advocate partners with organizations to ensure that they have the right tools in place for recovery and to accelerate a return to work, no matter what the event.
How we do it: A customized response
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to recovery or planning for a critical event. Our vast national network of highly trained counselors and psychologists are experienced in adapting to situations to deliver the appropriate level of support, with a 24/7 response anywhere in the country.
For example, in the case of natural disasters like a hurricane, our team serves as a hub, connecting those impacted to essential resources and relief services such as FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) that are necessary to begin reestablishing some sense of normalcy and reducing the feeling of being overwhelmed during this difficult time. In situations when our team cannot be physically present, we provide telephonic support to help with anxiety and stress. Later, in the healing phase of recovery, our counselors address the personal impact of the disaster with individuals and the steps they can take to get back on their feet.
We also provide help to the friends and family of those affected as well as to those who are impacted by news of the event.
An unexpected employee death drives EAP involvement
Among the common disruptive events, the most likely issue employers will typically face is the unexpected death of an employee. In fact, supporting employees who are impacted by a coworker death accounts for 70 percent of Health Advocate clients’ requests for help.
Again, a flexible response is crucial. Some deaths may be natural after a long illness, for example, while others may be the result of a tragic accident or a suicide. Our team adjusts their strategies accordingly, providing customized support to employees as a group and on an individual basis as needed.
Just as importantly, our team consults with the organization’s leadership about the next best steps to support their staff through the loss. When a tragedy strikes, employees look to leadership for direction. It’s essential that leaders know how to acknowledge the event with transparency and facts, demonstrate the seriousness of the loss and an awareness of the impact to the organization and their workforce, and to communicate an expectation of recovery.
Now’s the time to plan for a crisis
Whether a sudden death of an employee or a large-scale natural disaster, a disruptive event can happen in seconds, but the effects can be long-lasting. It’s important to have a plan to help employees cope with the trauma, minimize disruption and lost productivity and get your business back to normal as quickly as possible. Research shows that companies that have a plan in place after a tragedy have reductions in disability claims, worker’s compensation claim costs, healthcare costs, absenteeism and employee turnover.
Contact Us. We’re Always Ready.
Learn more about how Health Advocate can help you prepare for and address a full range of disruptive incidents to create a culture of psychological safety with a focus on maintaining productivity, returning to work and staying at work.