Your Employees Are In Pain … Acknowledge It and Help Them.

In How to Manage After the Events in Charlottesville, I talked about what organizations need to be prepared to do from a policy enforcement standpoint should something like those events happen involving employees in your workplace.

But what about the hurtful and horrible feelings floating around and lingering?

It is hard to watch the news coverage and images surrounding these events without feeling heavy.  It is hard not to form opinions about the state of our country and our world based on this. It is hard not to think how you can get involved and make a difference. It is hard not to worry for your friends and family and community, wondering if your town  or someone you care about could be next.

It is hard to focus and feel positive. It is hard to turn all that off and work like none of it is happening.

So if it is hard for you, it is hard for the people who work with you too.

Look around you and know that everyone is more than likely feeling some of the same feelings of anger and frustration and helplessness and hopelessness that you are feeling.

What are you doing about it?

Most employers don’t know what to do … so they do nothing.

If you’re wanting to walk the talk on diversity, inclusion and equal opportunity, this approach isn’t going to cut it.

You need to do more. You need to do different. You need to do better.

Don’t know where to start? Consider these:

  • Encourage Self-Care … Remind employees of the benefits of your Employee Assistance Program (EAP). If you don’t have an EAP, reach out to your benefits broker about adding one to your benefits offerings and possibly expanding the existing program if it isn’t very robust.
  • Communicate Candidly … Send acknowledgement of the horrible events and your empathy for the difficulty everyone is experiencing as a result. Send thanks for the continued hard work and diligence during this heavy time. Send reminders about limiting consumption of negative news and images to avoid damage to their psyche and becoming desensitized. Send messages of positivity, unity and hope.
  • Be Silent Together … Schedule a moment of silence for the victims and for our nation and for our world and, most of all, for our peace and sanity.
  • Give Together … Research charitable organizations who are doing positive work to help bring healing, understanding and equality. Encourage your employees to donate to these causes and match the donations.
  • Denounce White Supremacy … Yeah, I know I said this in the last post. I’m saying it again. Take this opportunity to remind everyone in your organization again that diversity and inclusion are celebrated and that the organization will not continue business with anyone who demonstrates they do not share these values. Knowing your workplace is a safe place from supremacy matters to your employees. Don’t let the fear and discomfort stop you from taking the stance if it is in your heart.

We spend half of our waking hours at work. Expecting people to suppress their emotions and thoughts from outside influences during that time is unrealistic. Whether you want it or not, your employees are talking about their feelings with each other. Look for ways to support them in their coping and healing.

Acknowledge their pain. Help them heal.



  1. While the pain you’re referring to was caused by a group of people consumed by hate, I think many of the points you referenced can also be used in the even more recent events of natural disasters. Obviously the situations are completely different. But some of the same tactics can be used (offer employees an opportunity to donate, have a moment of silence, etc.). I think employers need to know it’s okay to respond to and communicate with employees regarding what’s happening in our country.

    • Sarah Morgan

      September 13, 2017 at 12:22 AM

      I definitely agree this can be applied to many circumstances. The line between work and life continues to get thinner and thinner. Organizations are wise to communicate empathy whenever possible

  2. I work with people from Mexico and it was terrible. We were in the middle of a call and they kindly said they had to leave because they were having the earthquake. Enough said that being comprehensive and letting them know that you are there in case they need anything is just a part of our job. This can be applied with the example you made, with a death of a dear person, etc. Humans are sensitive to different situations as well, we have to look for individual cases as well.

    • Sarah Morgan

      December 4, 2017 at 1:01 AM

      That’s a great point. Being compassionate to what is going on in our societies at large is more important now than any other time in our world.

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