HOW 7/7 HAS CHANGED WORKPLACE PRACTISES
Added: (Fri Jul 07 2006)
Pressbox (Press Release) -
Kate Nowlan*, Chief Executive of CiC**, one of the UK’s leading Employee Assistance Programme Providers has been exploring how organisations have been affected by the 7/7 atrocities. As the anniversary of the London bombings approaches the subject touches a chord with many.
Kate Nowlan has been speaking of those organisations directly affected and how contingency planning has taken on a new poignancy. Organisations have placed higher emphasis on their business continuity planning protocols and are addressing the psychological effects of emergencies like 7/7. Training programmes have been put in place to focus on the human aspects of exposure to critical incidents. There is also a heightened awareness of risks to employees, particularly those who use public transport in central London. Companies have seriously taken on board the need to prepare their staff for emergencies. For those organisations affected by last year’s attacks it is no longer a question of ‘if’ a major disaster happens, but ‘when’ the next major disaster will strike and the need to put preparations in place. For those organisations who have really changed their approach to crisis management there will be less fear in the air.
While many organisations have taken steps to support staff, Kate is concerned that some organisations are still not well enough prepared to deal with the psychological effects of a major disaster:
‘Many organisations have carried on in pretty much the same way as they did before the 7/7 bombings. ‘People aspects’ are still not regarded as a priority and as a result staff are offered little support. It’s a real concern to see that mangers are continuing to place more emphasis on protection of IT systems, new premises and network systems, rather than looking to the welfare of the employees. Neglecting a vital issue like this means managers are far less likely to understand staff’s reactions to incidents or to recognise symptoms of normal post-traumatic stress, all of which can have a detrimental effect on the workings of the organisation.’
Companies have also reported that many London based staff who were in a position to walk or cycle to work did so immediately after the July attacks. Yet, one year on the majority have returned to public transport and are using buses and underground travel as often as before. The stereotypical British view of ‘things must go on as usual’ has continued. For those who had been exposed to the IRA bombings, last year’s attacks gave a sense of déjà vu. People did not want to feel intimidated again. Yet some companies have reported that staff commuting into the city from the provinces may still hesitate before using the Underground.
Kate Nowlan urged all organisations to engage a highly professional Employee Assistance Programme and listed key preparation issues for employers:
- Psychological inoculation - Preparing staff for the psychological effects of a major crisis plays a vital part in the prevention of stress disorders leading to absenteeism
- Educating staff as to the likely normal reactions to trauma. Symptoms can include sleeplessness, anxiety, panic attacks, hypervigilance, flashbacks, irritability etc
- Ensuring an employee assistance programme is in place with 24/7 cover with a freephone confidential helpline number for all staff
- Train managers in such issues as Breaking Bad News
- Ensure a Managerial Consultancy programme is in place (through EAP if available) so that managers of organizations have a key 24 hour contact in times of crisis
- Risk assessments. Ensure risk assessment protocols are in place for staff who may have been traumatized. This can be carried out internally or by trauma response experts. If staff have been exposed to major trauma, implement the risk assessment programme with a follow up after six weeks
- Contingency plans. HR /OH/ Health & Safety departments should liaise with Business Continuity Department, to ensure that ‘people’ aspects of contingency plans are in place. Ensure that this plan is revisited on a six monthly basis – and that new entrants to the company are always aware of this and briefed fully
Notes to Editor:
CiC was founded in 1988 and works with leading companies both in the UK and overseas to optimise staff support, training and performance. CiC’s critical incident and trauma teams have provided support both on a national and international scale in situations such as the 7/7 bombings and the Paddington Rail crash. CiC was the first Employee Assistance Programme provider to be audited against the professional standards of the Employee Assistance Programmes Association. CiC currently offers programmes to over 250,000 individuals throughout the public, private and voluntary sectors, with a range of services including Employee Assistance Programmes, Learning & Development programmes, Change Consulting, Coaching, Crisis Management and Critical Incident Support.
* Kate Nowlan, CiC’s Chief Executive, has worked as a corporate psychologist and psychotherapist for the past twenty years and has in-depth experience of working with senior executives from major banking and multinational companies as well as the public sector. She has lead management due diligence and evaluation projects with Ernst & Young and has acted as a senior consultant in the NHS to Primary Care Trusts.
She is on the Advisory Board of Darteurope (part of Dart US, founded to address issues around trauma for journalists worldwide) and has a particular interest in supporting those who have been exposed to cumulative traumatic experiences in the course of their working lives. She has delivered workshops and seminars to a diverse range of organisations (e.g. Amnesty International/leading international law firms/the construction industry/ Metropolitan Police) on working with trauma, and the advisability of preparing staff for overseas assignments. She has been involved in hands-on trauma support in Ireland, South Africa and the Middle East and in the aftermath of the 7/7 bombings in London. She has led trauma conferences and training programmes in Cape Town with psychiatrists, doctors and HR professionals looking at the psychological impact of critical incidents on organizations, and recently co-chaired a full day workshop with Dart for African journalists and their response to trauma. Kate is currently acting as trauma consultant to the TV series ‘Spooks’.
** CIC’s Core Services:
CiC provide telephone support, management support, face to face counselling, traumatic incident counselling, specialist support services, training and executive coaching and management information. The group specialises in the following services:
Crisis Management – CiC offer a complete Crisis Management and Critical Incident Cover package available 24/7. CiC’s Critical Incident Support staff and specialist trauma team are highly trained and have experience of providing support both to groups and on a one-to-one support basis across a range of situations, including the London 7/7 bombings, the ’04 Madrid train bombings, the Paddington rail crash, armed bank raids, bomb threats/evacuations and sudden deaths in the workplace.
Business Continuity & Critical Incident Support has to be a fundamental part of strategic planning for any forward thinking company nowadays. CiC also address Risk Management in the fields of Business Continuity, Company Risk Reviews, Security and International Travel Advice, and Critical Incident Cover.
EAP – The Employee Assistance Programme is CiC’s most highly demanded service. It focuses on organisational performance and enhanced productivity. Employees benefit from a 24 hour confidential helpline, available 365 days of the year, that offers support for every area of both their personal and professional life.
Management support and face to face counselling are provided as well as specialist support services such as Financial, Legal and child / family care, retirement, and redundancy issues.
Learning & Development – CiC’s comprehensive training programmes add value to businesses across the spectrum. The specialised training department has diverse front lein industry knowledge and experience which allows them to provide considerable depth of advice and training to fit the commercial requirements of any business. CiC use a range of specifically developed learning tools to train people in wide variety of business & management skills. Courses include: General Skills, Business Development, Leadership Skills, Business Continuity, HR Services and Coaching.
‘Each year, we review supplier performance and benchmark against other potential suppliers, changes in the marketplace and the best HR practice. Each year, CiC has continued to impress with the value they place on each individual member of our staff.’
Rewards and Benefits Manger, Autoglass
‘CMS Cameron McKenna has been using CiC since 2002. During this time, I have found the service extremely professional and of great benefit to our employees.’
Benefits and Systems Officer, CMS Cameron McKenna
‘CiC has given us a comprehensive, informative and customer friendly service that has been tailored to meet the needs of our business. Through CiC we have been able to provide our staff with the care, instruction, confidence and support they deserve. A first class service delivered by a friendly and professional organisation.’
HR Performance Manager, The Vehicle & Operator Services Agency