HR acts to lessen toll of despair

HR professionals across the world are picking up the pieces following the
terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York which saw thousands of
staff killed.

As the human tragedy unfolded, HR teams were immediately faced with the
enormous task of tracking down staff, updating staff and loved ones on the
latest information and providing support to distressed colleagues.

John Reid-Dodick, global director of HR at Reuters, told Personnel Today it
started tracking its 18,000 staff in 190 countries almost immediately to work
out which of them were in New York.

He said, "We contacted all HR directors in Europe, Japan and Asia
Pacific and coordinated with senior teams to track people who were
travelling." Of its 300 staff at the WTC, six remain missing.

It took investment bank Morgan Stanley, the largest tenant at the WTC,
several agonising days to track down its 3,700 staff. Staff at its Discover
Credit Card call centre fielded 50,000 calls around the clock from people
giving or seeking information on loved ones.

Communication with staff, family and friends has also been key. Global head
of HR at Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Clive Newton, explained that the company has
set up websites and call lines for people to find out if their friends and
colleagues are safe. PWC has employed grief counsellors and set up a helpline
for staff and their families.

Lance Richards, an international HR consultant based in the US, said,
"It changes everything – how people travel, how they work and whether they
will want to work outside the US."

By Lisa Bratby

SHRM responds to human tragedy

American HR representative body the SHRM has reacted swiftly to the tragic
events in New York and Washington by releasing guidelines for HR professionals.
It has removed the password protection from its website so concerned people can
access its "HR responds to terrorism" web pages.

In addition to offering extensive practical advice and information, SHRM
also has several experts on hand to discuss the employer’s role in helping
employees come to terms with the atrocity.

The site includes an article by Dr John Sullivan advising how HR should
react in the aftermath of a terrorist attack and provides information on crisis
communication letters.

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