Sydney Siege – Continuing support for your employees

images9WI60C5AWith the Martin Place Siege occurring only weeks before Christmas, the end of 2014 was a difficult time for many people, including those employees working in the Sydney CBD. The extent to which this event touched the lives of people was clear from the massive flower and card tributes that adorned Martin Place in the week following the siege.

The initial shock of this tragic event will have disappeared for most, and positive memories such as Christmas with our loved ones, summer holidays, or celebrations for the New Year, will be more prominent in the minds of many.

However even weeks later, and with the beginning of a new year, many of us are still reminded of what occurred, whether from observing the boarded-up Lindt café in Martin Place, seeing the tribute at the Sydney New Years’ Eve fireworks, or more subtle tributes such as vase of flowers on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

As people return from the holiday festivities to their regular routines, especially those working in the Sydney CBD, they may notice that something has changed for them. For some, the sense of shock and disbelief that an event like this occurred in the city, their city, may have been replaced by negative emotion such as anxiety, sadness, fear or anger.

It is not uncommon to have an increased sense of danger or uneasiness when there has been a traumatic event in the vicinity of our work, especially one that impacted on the lives of people whose daily routines may have been similar to our own. It is also not uncommon for our view of the world to shift slightly, to perhaps a less optimistic or less trusting one. While these reactions are normal initially, with time many of these feelings will disappear, as we settle back into our routines and feel safe and hopeful for the future again.

For some, the siege will also bring about positive reactions such as a renewed sense of meaning. An event such as this, involving the sudden loss of innocent lives and the threat of other lives being lost, can reinforce our values and what is important to us in life. We may find ourselves offering more smiles or assistance to strangers, or spending more time with our family and loved ones. Co-workers’ attitudes toward one another may also change, perhaps valuing one another more and being more

tolerant of differences. Memories of the event, while still merged with sadness, may bring a sense of solidarity, as people share a renewed commitment to common values. This was evident even with anecdotal stories of people spontaneously hugging at the site of the floral tribute, offering each other comfort and companionship amidst tragedy.

The way in which each of us responds to an event such as the Martin Place Siege differs considerably and no two people will react in the exact same way. Even weeks after the event, emotions will often be mixed, and they may be for some time, as people continue to remember what occurred. Providing a sense of support and reassurance to your employees is essential. Reinforce those values which bring people together. Encourage people to express their needs. Pay attention to any changes in your employees which may be indicators that they require support.  For example, changes in work performance, sudden drop in attendance at work, or uncharacteristic behaviour.

If you are concerned about an employee, or you would like more information about how to support your employees, please contact our Manager Support line on 1800 818 728.

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