5 Ways to Create A Safe & Supportive Work Environment

Posted by Alana Kadden Ballon on Jun 13, 2016

The horrific attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando is still fresh in everyone’s minds. Although we have perhaps gotten too familiar with these types of tragedies, the pain, fear and urgency to people’s social media posts seem to have increased. Companies are sometimes afraid to acknowledge shootings because of the political climate, but it is every company’s responsibility to:

  1. Keep employees safe
  2. Create an environment in which employees feel supported and can flourish
  3. Support them as individuals in the long-term

All of these things drive productivity and ultimately profitability.

In the wake of the Orlando attack, here are 5 ways to create a safe & supportive work environment:

  1. Communicate resources & channels of support.  Send out an email, post to internal social channels about available resources for employees who need support, reminders of mental health benefits and reference published sources for tips on coping, like this one from the American Psychological Association. Remind employees that they are safe at work and share company safety measures and protocols.
  2. Create space for dialogue. For those wanting to discuss the events, schedule a lunch or other allocated time for people to talk about their feelings about the shooting. Include a mental health professional to facilitate and an HR team member to ensure everyone at the company feels they can express their opinions.  Consider offering 1:1 sessions if resources allow. Encourage employees to take a bit of time to themselves to reflect and process.
  3. Plan a team event to benefit the community. Volunteering as a team fosters a sense of belonging. Helping others also has the benefit of helping you feel better too. This is a great checklist from the Entrepreneurs’ Foundation of Silicon Valley to help you get started.
  4. Host an event to educate your team on different cultures, religions, sexual orientation, gender or other group. In addition to belonging to a team, uniqueness drives the other portion of true inclusion at work. Muslims are currently celebrating Ramadan, host an Iftar celebration in the evening and invite employees or guests to talk about their views and experiences. Here are some tips on how to host the celebration. This month is also LGBTQ Pride. Your company, if it hasn’t already, can get involved in a Pride Parade, form partnerships with organizations that support the LGBTQ community, company sponsored events or educational offerings.
  5. Follow-up. When so many lives and families face this type of devastating loss, the immediate outreach and reaction is overwhelming. But weeks and months down the line, once some have moved on, many simply cannot, especially those personally impacted. Grief is a long process. Set reminders a few weeks and months out to repeat steps 1-4 in the coming weeks and months, fostering a true culture of support.

May we all be inspired to work towards a more harmonious world, beginning with the communities, like our workplaces, that we inhabit every day.