The Aftermath of a Crisis: What Happens Next?

Imagine your organization has just been through a traumatic event. Perhaps an employee has died or been seriously injured on the job, or your workforce has been drastically reduced by downsizing. Or, an outside event, such as the recent tragic mass shootings, has left your employees feeling afraid and vulnerable.

Unfortunately, these critical incidents can and do happen, and any organization of any size can be impacted. Beyond the initial outcome of the event, there are often both short and long-term effects that can impact morale, reduce productivity and even threaten the stability of the organization.

How can you reduce the impact of a crisis on your business while still caring for and supporting the most valuable part of your company— your workforce? Once the immediate crisis is over, the first question you may ask is “What Happens Next?”

Unlike a natural disaster, where federal and local resources are sometimes available to provide support, a crisis event that impacts your employees often creates problems that are yours alone to solve. Therefore, you need a crisis plan ready to implement should the worst-case scenario take place.

A comprehensive Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a valuable resource that your organization can utilize to ensure that a process is in place to deal with a critical incident. A strong EAP partner like BHS can provide Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) services. In fact, BHS is a leader in providing immediate and impactful on-site intervention following a crisis, with CISM services available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

What is CISM?

CISM is a multi-stage process that can be utilized to respond to a traumatic event in the workplace. A proven crisis intervention system, CISM is essentially a form of psychological first aid for your employees and your organization. The process helps those involved in a critical incident to share their experiences, communicate their emotions, learn about stress reactions and develop strategies to cope with the event’s aftermath.

It’s important when developing a crisis response plan to recognize and respond to both the needs of the organization as well as the individuals. For example, the company may need leadership consultation, assistance in stabilizing the business, and distribution of employee resources as well as strategies for returning to routine and recreating a positive atmosphere, among others. Employees’ needs can include re-establishing a sense of safety in the workplace, opportunities to process the critical incident with peers who shared the same experience, and knowledge of available resources through the EAP or health plan.

Components of a Comprehensive Crisis Response Plan

A well-developed crisis response plan should be developed with a thorough understanding of the organization’s culture and protocols. CISM should include elements such as:

  • Pre-incident training
  • Threat assessment
  • Violence prevention training
  • Crisis event defusing
  • Crisis debriefing
  • Individual consultation/outreach
  • Management/leadership consultation
  • Post-incident analysis

BHS provides all aspects of a robust CISM, including consultation both before and after a traumatic event with highly trained members of the BHS team. For example, in preparing for a possible crisis, BHS can provide stress management and resiliency training for all employees, empowering those involved in a critical incident to appropriately manage their response. And, unlike many other EAP providers, BHS employs Master’s Level Clinicians with specialized training who are available for immediate crisis consultation. Members of the BHS team can also be on-site shortly after a crisis event to provide support.

A Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) is one tool that is often utilized in the wake of an event that has impacted a group of employees. The CISD provides those affected by trauma with the opportunity to process their reactions and emotions resulting from the incident. Employees are taught coping mechanisms and briefed on available resources that can provide continual support. The group CISD also allows the provider to identify ‘at risk’ individuals who may need individual consultation and follow-up.

Regardless of the nature of the event, the goal of a crisis response using the CISM process is always the same – to provide comprehensive and customized support that will expedite a return to normalcy and minimize the immediate and long-term effects of a crisis on employees and organizational performance.

BHS offers a wide range of crisis planning and management services to help prepare for and guide your organization through the trauma associated with a critical incident. Want to learn more? Get in touch.

Post Written by

Senior Clinical Liaison

Meghan Stokes is an experienced licensed clinical social worker. A native of Washington County, MD, Meghan graduated from Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College) and earned a master’s degree from the University of Maryland School of Social Work in Employee Assistance Programs. In addition to holding the highest social work licensure, Meghan is also certified as a Clinical Supervisor and Field Instructor for undergraduate and graduate programs and has a certification in Critical Incident Stress Management.