When a national tragedy such as the mass shooting at a concert in Las Vegas occurs, people may feel stunned, overwhelmed and shocked. These strong emotions may make it difficult for your employees to concentrate on the task at hand. You can address these national tragedies with your employees by using grace and professionalism and using methods that help your staff to cope with their strong feelings.
Maintain Business Etiquette
Many businesses have a standard of etiquette that minimizes or even prohibits talk about controversial issues or politics in the workplace. It is still possible to address a national tragedy without getting into theories of causation, failed political policies or placing blame. When possible, stick with the facts about what happened. When a national tragedy is happening during the workday, complete and accurate information might not be readily available. Rumors or incorrect information could be delivered by the media as journalists attempt to provide the public with information as it comes in through their sources. When informing your employees and addressing the situation, try to stick with facts, such as, “There is a developing situation in Los Angeles. There appears to be a mass shooting. Information is still coming in, and we will keep you updated.”
Give Employees Time to Process Grief
In the face of a national tragedy, employees may feel intense grief. Recognize that your staff may not be as productive for a day. Some people might need to go home early, or they might call off sick for a day. Allow your staff to use their vacation or sick leave in such situations. Another option is to give employees an extended break during the workday. You could also call a meeting of all employees. Recognize the tragedy, and take a moment of silence for people to process what has happened.
Facilitate a Conversation
Recognize the tragedy and validate the feelings that your employees have about it. If you send out a company-wide email, be genuine. Avoid fixating on the issue. Consider posting mental health resources or reminding employees about their mental health benefits in case anyone needs counseling or extra support for their feelings. Discourage discussion of the tragedy with your customers. If the customers bring it up, employees can acknowledge the customer’s sadness and bereavement.