The Definitive Guide to Managing Trauma in the Workplace

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Use this guide to understand the psychological experience of your employees after a traumatic incident.


When an unexpected traumatic event occurs at a business, or an employee experiences trauma, loss, or grief in their personal lives, it can be challenging to manage the incident initially. It may also be difficult for employees to cope and return to their normal lives after the fact.

Traumatic experiences can evoke fear, shock, anxiety, depression, and other emotions for months to come after the event takes place. Everyone handles traumatic events, loss, and grief differently. For some, this might involve really immersing themselves in their work. For others, they might experience difficulty maintaining their daily routine.

For business owners and management, knowing exactly how to manage trauma in the workplace and its aftermath is a crucial part of business management. Regardless of the industry, management needs to be knowledgeable in managing trauma.

Types of Trauma

Many people associate trauma in the workplace as strictly workplace violence. Here are a few examples of trauma that can occur in the workplace or negatively impact employees:

  • Downsizing, layoffs, buyouts or mergers.
  • Natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, tornadoes or volcanoes.
  • Death, whether at the workplace or outside of the workplace.
  • Human-caused events such as robbery, violence of any kind, explosions, fires or rape.
  • Personal trauma such as death of a relative or friend, relationship or medical issues or witnessing a traumatic event.

Trauma Checklist

Even these are just some points of the larger checklist, follow these steps as a guide to determine whether or not management should assess a situation:

  • Was an employee in danger, or feel like they were in danger?
  • Has the incident had any media coverage?
  • Did an employee witness or experience a stressful event in or outside of the workplace?
  • Did an employee suffer a serious injury or die?
  • Has an employee experienced a loss outside of the workplace?
Find more helpful information and expert advice in our guide.