Supporting Employees After a Hurricane

Article | September 2017

Supporting Employees After a Hurricane

Find Your Focus

  • Know your priorities
  • Understand your role
  • Think outside the box

Get Connected

  • Find or create communication channels
  • Learn employee status and share your support
  • Spell out steps the company is taking
  • Understand company policy on sharing information

Offer Practical Support

  • Consider how to help meet immediate needs
  • Compile and share resources
  • Address pay concerns
  • Help make connection to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
      - Telephonic support
      - Face-to-face support
      - Online Disaster Resource Center

Workplace Moves

  • Consider short-term modification of procedures and protocols
  • If possible, relieve impacted employees of usual duties
  • Review policies for flexibility in granting time off
  • Communicate clear work priorities
  • Lower your expectations to limit overwork and reduce risk of accidents
  • Watch out for your own tendency to overwork
  • Strive for normal routines as much as possible

Communicate Personal Support

  • Provide ongoing updates
  • Check in with employees proactively
  • Be honest about the situation and normalize reactions
  • Ask what they need –offer specific, practical help
  • Get guidance from your EAP

What Else Can I Do?

  • Listen
  • Be sensitive
  • Avoid clichés or pat responses
  • Respect privacy
  • Don’t take reactions personally
  • Don’t try to fix it

If you have concerns about an employee being depressed, reach out to your EAP. If there appears to be any risk of self-harm, seek immediate help.

Understand the Impact

  • Experience of loss can be far-reaching
  • Everyone has their own reaction
  • Reactions to loss may shift over time
  • Assess workplace actions through this lens
  • Emotional reactions don’t occur in neat stages

EAP Resources

  • EAP toll-free number for employees
  • Management consultation with Employee Assistance Consultant (EAC)
  • Wellness seminars that address stress, change, resilience
  • Handouts on related topics, such as coping with stress, grief
  • Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Services


Management consultation / needs assessment

  • Available 24/7/365
  • One-on-one response planning and crisis management

Telephonic town hall for managers

  • Education, normalization, best practices for managers
  • Useful for widely dispersed groups or when conditions prevent gathering

Group or individual support meetings

  • Can be held onsite or telephonically
  • Opportunity to talk about what happened, process feelings, and share resources

Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM)

CISM meeting may include:

  • Review of event and personal experiences
  • Focus on reassurance, stabilization, and resiliency
  • Planning self-care for the next 24-48 hours
  • Education and normalization of potential responses
  • Information about additional support resources available in the community
  • Educate about the EAP resources available and how they can help
  • Possibly discuss re-entry to the workplace, based on client request
  • Schedule follow-up CISM meetings for client as needed

Aftermath and Beyond

  • Find creative ways to welcome employees back
  • Acknowledge positive actions
  • Periodically check in
  • Don’t neglect your own needs

Be patient – there is no “normal” period of readjustment. Everyone will have their own timetable.

Benefits of the EAP

Benefits vary by employer. Please check with your HR for your specific EAP benefits.

  • Face-to-face sessions
  • Confidential
  • Prepaid
  • Unlimited telephonic consultation
  • Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Household benefit
  • Work/life support such as elder care, child care, and pet care
  • Financial services
  • Legal services

This material is provided by Cigna for informational/educational purposes only. It is not medical/clinical advice.