Effective trauma management in the workplace can reduce staff absence and lead to better employee, research has shown.
A study, commissioned by the British Occupational Health Research Foundation (BOHRF), found that an organisation that provides simple yet effective strategies to manage trauma in the workplace can reduce the negative symptoms that employees experience.
The researchers, from the Institute of Work Psychology at the University of Sheffield, looked at the Royal Mail Group and identified 815 workers over a two-year period who had been exposed to a potentially traumatic incident. The study then tracked them over 13 months.
Royal Mail was chosen because it has a well-established trauma management programme. The range of jobs in the organisation meant that the trauma incidents experienced were varied, from armed raids and hostage-taking situations, to road traffic accidents and verbal abuse.
The researchers found that sickness absence among employees following a traumatic incident correlated significantly with perceived organisational support immediately following the trauma. Employees who felt they had received support showed lower absence 12 months later.
The study also found that perceived support from the organisation was more important in helping employees recover from trauma than the specific form of support.
Dr Jo Rick of the Institute of Work Psychology, who led the research team, said: “The lack of evidence on the best response to trauma has left employers with little or no guidance on what to do for the best.
“Our research moves beyond this deadlock and provides evidence about different approaches which work. It also identifies that the way individual employees perceive the support offered by their organisation post-trauma could play an important part in their recovery and reduce sickness absence post-trauma.”