What is the role of HR after a tragedy like Orlando? Many employers are wondering how to address the shock and sadness that is surfacing in the workplace. Fast Company ran an article about the role of employers after such a tragedy, and I am sharing more tips about what HR can do to help restore normalcy.
The biggest issue when something like this happens is the loss of a sense of safety and security. We get our sense of safety and security from the predictability of events. In the case of Orlando, as with 9/11, we know this awful event was simply not predictable. In the case of 9/11, the victims were simply going to work as we all do. With Orlando, they were simply going out to have fun—again, as we all do.
All of us have deep-seated beliefs, also known as Iceberg Beliefs, about the world being predictable, basically safe, the chances of anything happening to us (shot, car crash) are very remote, and in any event, good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. So when something like this happens, those Iceberg Beliefs aren’t just challenged or stretched, they’re shattered. This leaves us feeling out to sea and very insecure.
How can HR help? When the event happens in a nightclub it may not be HR’s explicit role to address it, as it would be say in the case of the San Bernardino attack which happened in the workplace. But HR can still help people repair their Icebergs through action:
- HR can get active. When something like this happens, we want to get active, both to help the victims and to protect ourselves and our family from future threat. For example, after Sandy Hook, my wife and I went to our kids’ school board and helped them to form a security committee which we led to improve security at the school.
- HR can remind people of safety procedures already in place. HR can remind their people what procedures are in place to prevent such an attack and what people should do in the event of such an attack.
- HR can open a fund. HR can open a fund for people to contribute money to help the victims and their families.
- HR can start a forum. HR can start a virtual forum where people can express their concerns about an attack at their workplace. HR could then action those items to reinforce their safety procedures to encompass those concerns
These action on the part of HR will help the process of restoring a sense of safety—which we all need to navigate around the world.