Empathy is key for Buffalo employers as the community reels from the racist massacre on May 14 that left 10 people dead on Buffalo’s East Side.
An 18-year-old gunman from Broome County opened fire on civilians shopping at the Tops Friendly Markets on Jefferson Avenue. He shot 13 people, 11 of whom were Black. Investigators soon discovered the attack was racially motivated.
“Everyone is going to be processing this differently. Employers can’t make assumptions about what their employees need,” said Lisa Stefanie, president of TripleTrack HR Partners in Williamsville.
During the pandemic, employers learned the value of showing empathy to employees. Empathy is what’s needed again in the aftermath of this shooting.
“You do that by providing resources right out of the gate,” she said. “That could mean offering bereavement time without judgment, because that might look different for everybody.”
Julie Becht, chief human resource officer for Freed Maxick, said the accounting firm is allowing flexible schedules.
“If they want to move their time around or work on Saturday instead or if they want to take time off, that’s fine, too, because everything is still so raw,” she said.
The CPA firm sent a message to employees on May 16 morning recognizing the horrific incident, naming all the victims and calling for compassion among the workforce. The company plans to bring in a grief counselor for anyone who needs to talk individually or virtually.
“Post-traumatic stress disorder comes in many forms, so this could be triggering for unknown issues,” she said.
Similarly, Christine Marrano, vice president of human resources for Evergreen Health, said employers could use information from the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress to assist and share coping mechanisms with employees.
Employers should normalize conversations about mental health and safety and “host meetings to hold space and allow for employees to share and reflect on the most recent events in our city.”
Becht and Stefanie said it’s a good time to remind employees about available EAP programs. Employers may want to offer time for employees to make mental health-care appointments.
“The businesses that are closer to the location or have a population that would be really shaken by this – like other Tops locations or grocery stores – they’re probably deploying counselors on site or offices to do some critical debriefing about that trauma and how it’s affecting them,” she said.
Employers should lead by example and show a “very human” response to this act of violence, Stefanie said, by offering statements of empathy and opening lines of communication.
“I think it’s OK for employers to say, ‘This is a tough one for everyone in Buffalo, and we want you to be able to process this how you need to, so our doors will be open. But we’re not professional counselors, and we may need to refer you to other resources, too.”
Employers may want to ask their employee groups how they’d like to render aid to the community directly affected by the shooting.
“We’re the City of Good Neighbors,” she said “and we tend to rally around to help.”
Story from Buffalo Business First. Read the original article here.