– Brett Ward, Head of Member Safety, Sonder
In today’s fast-paced and ever-evolving business landscape, the importance of a safe and supportive workplace cannot be overstated.
A positive work environment not only enhances productivity and employee satisfaction but also cultivates creativity and innovation.
Companies that prioritise the wellbeing of their employees experience reduced turnover rates, higher employee engagement, and ultimately, improved bottom lines.
Sadly, employees are often subjected to violence and abuse, our latest safety report data shows police were involved in 23% of Sonder customers’ critical incidents in the quarter from April-June 2023 – an increase of 35% from the previous quarter.
Every week, our technology-enabled, professional care team and on-the-ground responders actively support cases involving physical aggression, harassment, violence, assault, and sexual abuse.
The top five categories for police incidents that we see are; assault by a customer, attempted suicide by a customer, attempted suicide by a member, customer death on site and armed robbery.
In the workplace context, psychological debriefing immediately after a traumatic event has long been offered by employers but it is no longer best practice. So how can companies support their frontline teams if they experience these situations at work?
The latest research shows psychological first aid (PFA) is best practice and a crucial approach for providing initial support to individuals affected by a crisis, disaster, or traumatic event.
It aims to promote resilience, reduce distress, and foster coping mechanisms. It’s really simple and can be delivered by anybody in the team.
Here are five steps to help implement psychological first aid:
Step 1: Ensuring safety
Creating a safe and supportive environment is paramount when delivering psychological first aid. Ensure that the physical space is safe and secure, free from immediate threats. When safety is reintroduced following trauma, negative reactions have been shown to gradually reduce over time.
Step 2: Promoting calm in the situation
This step helps to stabilise people who are overwhelmed or disoriented. To help foster calm it’s important to provide an environment removed from stressful situations or exposure to sights, sounds and smells of the traumatic event.
Reminding people they are now safe is helpful. Demonstrating empathy, active listening, and non-judgemental behaviour are essential in establishing a trusting relationship with those affected.
Step 3: Encourage self-efficacy
We do not give our people enough credit for how resilient they are. This step is all about encouraging them to be self efficacious, use their own problem solving skills to help them meet their needs to feel safe.
Step 4: Creating connectedness
Re-establishing connections with loved ones and fostering social connections as quickly as possible in the aftermath of a crisis is critical to recovery. It instills hope because the reality is, the vast majority of people exposed to trauma bounce back quickly once they can process it with their family and friends.
Step 5: Instilling hope
Those who remain optimistic are more likely to have favourable outcomes following trauma. To achieve this it’s all about conveying an expectation that people will recover, being there and willing to help and reassuring people that their feelings are normal.
By letting people make decisions about their own care on their own terms, with ready access via channels that they choose we can help our frontline teams feel more in control of their environment and better able to process the trama’s they experienced.
By following these tips and adhering to the principles of psychological first aid, colleagues can play a vital role in supporting their teams emotional wellbeing and contributing to their recovery process after a crisis or traumatic event. Remember that every individual’s experience is unique, so flexibility and adaptability are key.
To find out more about psychological first aid, read about the latest research on our blog: Sonder