Addressing National Tragedies at Work

Workplaces aren't sealed off from the cultures around them and the events that shape those cultures. More and more, your teams are coming to work and looking to each other to find community and support.

When tragic events occur, the initial impulse may be to go back to “business as usual,” but we’d argue a better approach is “don’t gloss over it.” Be open to listening: not everyone will take you up on it, but it’s important to let people know support is available.

Your first goal is to foster psychological safety. In order for teams to move forward, they have to feel safe enough to know that they can rely on each other for support. There are also some simple steps you can take to help people manage stress in general:

  1. Encourage communication. Be open and available to discuss issues. Supporting team members in times of success and trials will create stronger bonds and reward a culture of vulnerability.
  2. Be kind. Be patient and supportive as people work through things—this can be as simple as checking in with a team member every so often. Small acts of kindness during times of trouble will foster team solidarity in the long term.
  3. Give support to be supported. Give props to people on your team, especially during times of distress and low morale. Colleagues will be more likely to offer up their time and attention to you when they’ve felt and received the same kindness in the past. This technique will also promote a culture of selflessness, helping team members consider others’ needs above their own.
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Addressing National Tragedies at Work
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