Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put the globe on edge and upped workers’ stress. Let us explore how employers can help meet the needs of staff affected by global crises.
Understand where different responses may be coming from
Depending on their personal experiences, background, and relationships, employees are likely to have very different responses to the situation unfolding in Ukraine. Some may have past traumatic experiences in conflict zones or memories of violence triggered by the war. Some may find it compounds already-existing feelings of anxiety or depression.
People who have experienced the kind of trauma in their life that co-occurs with war — even if they have not lived through geopolitical crises — may feel similarly destabilized.
In short, employers don’t know enough about employees’ lives to know who may or may not be affected by events.
Be aware of how trauma responses manifest
Employers can help themselves respond to employees’ stress by understanding the mental health symptoms that tend to appear in response to global crises. Common reactions to past trauma include post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression, and generalized anxiety.
Keeping in mind that all of these responses may be related to current events (or other trauma) rather than workplace dynamics can help employers take a step back and look at the situation more holistically.
Connect employees to workplace-sponsored resources
Speaking of support, make sure all employees are aware of the resources available to them. Some of these may be directly related to mental health, such as a stipend to use for counseling available through employee assistance programs.
But other resources and workplace flexibility programs can help as well. Employees may benefit from more flexibility in breaks and hours worked. Even just providing the time and private space during work hours to call family who live in another time zone may be a major benefit for some workers.
Organize an action in response to the conflict
It is appropriate to take or offer a workplace action that can help employees feel less powerless in the face of conflict.
When employees can do something that helps them make “even a little bit of difference,” it is very helpful. Joining fundraising drives for those displaced by the conflict, organizing volunteer activities related to supporting refugees, and sharing information about item donation drives are all potential actions employers can take.