As an employer, it’s important to pride yourself on being there for employees when they need you most. More often than not, we’re seeing that care and attention involve an individual’s mental well-being.

It has been established that employee well-being has many benefits beyond the most important one — taking care of and caring for the employee. This includes more engaged, productive, and safer employees.

This kind of well-being is needed at any time, but in the workplace, two of the largest problems employers face include:

  • A catastrophic event that not only affects their business but also impacts the emotional well-being of their employees
  • An intervention for a worker who is experiencing emotional or mental health challenges

Critical or catastrophic events impacting employees can be personal or work-related. Think about it — the loss of a loved one, witnessing a horrific auto accident, an idiopathic personal health event, or having one of their co-workers killed or seriously injured while in the same building or performing the same job. These examples all take a tremendous toll on an employee.

It’s imperative that organizations organize, draft and implement emergency preparedness and critical incident response policies for crisis management. Internally, a suitable critical incident response plan should also include: 

  1. A consistent procedure for how incidents will be reported and to which members of leadership. That way, there’s no confusion on whom to report incidents to within the workplace.
  2. Safety procedures to be used at the time of an incident, including step-by-step evacuation logistics. These procedures will help to save time when the incident occurs. 
  3. Names and contact information for those who should be notified at the time of a critical incident, including their specific roles. This should include contacts both within and outside of the organization. 
  4. Instructions regarding urgent procedures to take place during a critical incident, such as equipment shutdowns, additional security for company entrances, etc.
  5. Designated first aid and rescue duties for any employees assigned to perform them.

Critical incident response is a subset of an operational crisis management plan. Whereas crisis management helps companies prepare for and respond to crises, critical incident response helps companies and their employees recover from crises, including active shooter or workplace violence; terrorist and criminal attacks, both directed at you or within the vicinity; fire, explosion and hazmat incidents; political and civil unrest/special events, pandemics or epidemics; kidnap/extortion; and/or weather emergencies.

In the event of a critical event, having a single point of contact through the company’s insurance to reach out to for the purpose of responding to the emotional needs of a worker who has been impacted may be useful for the company. The contact may be an outside vendor partner that has experience in critical incident response and employee/worker assistance services.

The use of critical incident response services is optional and offered to assist clients during a critical incident event. At times, coverage may help pay for these critical incident response services if it involves a covered property casualty loss. It can also replace or supplement current Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). 

In all, employers should have a critical incident response plan in place that can help with security risk management and establish general emergency guidelines for potential security events.