Stress in the workplace is common, everyone undergoes some form of stress whether it be trying to hit a deadline, worrying about dealing with a particular customer or facing employees in a meeting.
Helping workers manage stress is key for management success, but when a worker has PTSD, a different approach is needed.
Statistically, 3.5% of the US population has some form of PTSD. If a workplace hires veteran employees, 11% to 20% of veterans that are hired have come home from deployment with PTSD. But PTSD is also occurring outside of military experience. Around 28% of people that witness mass shootings experience long-term symptoms of PTSD. Anyone that has dealt with a traumatic event can suffer from PTSD.
Workplace assault and violence are common triggers for PTSD.
Businesses have to be aware of the rising number of employees with PTSD to better help manage these employees. When properly managed, these workers will be more efficient in their job duties and be more productive overall.
Working With Employees with PTSD
Management should first implement a Reasonable Accommodation Policy. There needs to be a limit of how much you’ll accommodate an employee, and this is where the policy will place limits on the accommodation.
Ensuring that accommodations are effective means sitting down with the employee and asking the employee:
- What tasks may be challenging in the workplace
- How management can make these tasks less challenging
- What measures can be taken to lower the PTSD symptoms in the workplace
Of course, management will need to consider the work environment and do their best to accommodate the employee. When accommodations begin to interfere with the productivity in the workspace, this is when it’s time to take a look at the accommodations being offered.
Accommodations should make the employee more productive while not impacting the productivity of other employees in the workplace.
A few of the ways that employers have been able to successfully manage employees with PTSD are:
- Offering flexible scheduling where an employee can choose to telecommute some days when they’re on edge or experiencing more PTSD symptoms than normal.
- Providing the employee with more breaks during the day and the ability to leave the office when a flare up is occurring,
- Privacy increasing measures. Oftentimes, the symptoms of PTSD worsen when an employee is surrounded by others. Additional privacy, and maybe even the employee’s own office, can help alleviate many of these concerns.
Employees that need special care should also have written instructions on how to handle certain situations. The additional step to write down the instructions will keep the employee on track and in a calmer mental state.
Management can also make the work environment more understanding of employees that have PTSD. Proper training on anti-discrimination and anti-harassment can help. Managers should also undergo training if the workplace plans to employ a lot of veterans so that they can better help these employees find success in the workplace.
Ignoring an employee with PTSD is ill-advised and often leads to the issue spilling over into other employee productivity. Supporting these employees is the best way to keep the employee working and productive.