A Manager’s Guide to Critical Incidents in the Workplace

November 06, 2018
A Managers Guide to Critical Incidents in the Workplace

Written by Angela Diver, LISW, LICDC 

As a Manager, you are the first person whom your employees look to after a critical incident has happened in the workplace.  These incidents may be an act of violence such as a robbery or shooting, death of a colleague at work, a natural disaster or any other traumatic experience.  The following guidelines can assist you in helping to calm your staff and will give them some much needed support outside of your regular protocol that you may be following after a critical incident has occurred.

After The Critical Incident, Be Sure To:

  • Touch base specifically with each member of your team to ask how they are doing after the critical incident.
  • Provide support and feedback to your team that they did a great job during the incident and that you admire the way that they handled things.
  • Let them know that you are working on getting additional information about the event and that you will keep them informed.
    • Remember to update your team regularly even if you have no news to report.
  • If at all possible, suspend normal daily work activities after an incident.
  • Make it a point for the entire team to arrive back at the workplace together the next work day and arrange for breakfast or lunch to be available for all team members.
  • Try not to let your work duties interfere with keeping close to your team in the days following the incident.

Utilize Additional Resources:

  • Consult with your EAP for guidance on talking with your staff and arranging a time for the EAP Consultant to come onsite to meet with your Team. Your EAP Consultant is trained to respond to the unique emotional needs of a group after they have experienced a trauma and an EAP Debriefing.
  • Contact each of your team members after they have gone home for the day either by phone or text to see how they are doing and to remind them of their EAP resource.
  • Familiarize yourself with HR procedures should a team member need time off after an incident.
  • Take care of yourself. It’s okay to let your team know that you are angry, nervous, overwhelmed, etc.  Allow yourself time to relax, spend time with your family and friends, limit TV and social media exposure, and consider using your EAP as a resource for yourself.

Note that the following feelings exhibited by your team and those that you may be feeling are normal to have:

  • Shock, disbelief
  • Denial
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling on edge or jumpy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty recalling details
  • Difficulty talking about the incident
  • Anger
  • Not wanting to return to the workplace

No one is ever fully prepared for a traumatic workplace incident.  But having some critical incident response tools at your fingertips can help with the anxiety and uncertainty that can follow and help your team on the road to recovery.