The Role of Managers/Supervisors in Managing a Critical Incident:

Manager and supervisors play a critical role in providing support to employees following a traumatic event or critical incident. Following such events your staff may react in a variety of ways that impact productivity and behavior. While you are focused on maintaining a stable work environment your employees will need emotional support and understanding. How you respond to these demands is vital. The UAB Employee Assistance and Counseling Center can provide support, assistance, and guidance for you and your employees.

What is a Critical Incident?

According to the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation - a critical incident is an abnormal or traumatic event “which has the potential to overwhelm one’s usual coping mechanisms resulting in psychological distress and an impairment of normal adaptive functioning.”In the workplace, this might be an event that could result in changes in employee behavior and/or productivity.

Examples of critical incidents in the workplace include:
  • Suicide
  • Homicide
  • Robbery
  • Assault
  • Threats of violence
  • Worksite accidents
  • Industrial and natural disasters
  • Organizational changes like restructuring or reductions in force

Tips for Managing Critical Incidents:

Critical incidents may affect a few individuals, a department, or the entire organization.  Take care of your own people first. Contact the UAB Employee Assistance and Counseling Center to help you to manage the situation, as soon as possible, following the incident. Our therapists will help you to take steps to reduce the source of the stress and to communicate effectively with your employees in a way that provides support and structure. Encourage teamwork and cooperation, set clear work standards and modify departmental rules and procedures that are counterproductive after a disaster. Take steps to prevent accidents, illness, overwork, and exhaustion.

With the help of a UAB Employee Assistance and Counseling Center counselor make it clear that this is a difficult period, and it’s okay to share feelings of anxiety, fatigue or frustration. Acknowledge the value of professional counseling, and encourage your employees to get whatever help they need. Provide opportunities for employees to talk about their stressful experiences. Take care of yourself; don’t underestimate the impact of stress on you as an individual.

Remember that the UAB Employee Assistance and Counseling Center (934-2281) is available to assist both you and your employees.