For Canadians and people around the world, the current news stream can be particularly bleak.
While a brief ceasefire between Israeli forces and Hamas punctuated the conflict in Gaza last week, the war’s wider impact on people’s mental health and psychological safety will likely last far into the future. Meanwhile, Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine is just months away from entering its third year.
Amid these challenging times, it’s important for employees to feel supported in the workplace, says Paula Allen, global leader and senior vice-president of research and client insights at Telus Health. “Whenever there’s anything of a traumatic nature [occurring in the world], that can be very disruptive. There’s a lot of interest among organizations in understanding how to support people.”
While benefits offerings such as employee assistance programs and counselling can provide immediate support, it’s also important for employers to work towards creating psychologically safe workplaces through manager training and open communications.
“Employees want work to be a place that’s positive in terms of well-being and this is where training comes in,” says Allen. “[Training is especially important for] people leaders because they’re the ones who are closest to the employees.”
In the case of divisive and politically sensitive global events such as the current conflict in the Middle East, it’s important for employers to maintain their focus on employee well-being, she adds. “You can’t get into the experience or the position of anyone else in any kind of situation, [but] human beings can care about human beings and [employers can ensure] employees feel comfortable, safe and appreciative of the support they’re receiving in the workplace.”