How a company supports staff immediately after a traumatic incident, colleague's death or workplace disaster has a huge impact on recovery, say experts.

Providing the right support in the hours, days and weeks after a serious event is important - and can have a long-term impact.

Having professionals step in to provide support, counselling and give easy access to other help services is becoming more common in New Zealand workplaces.

Employment Assistance Programs (EAPs) such as Benestar and EAP Services provide regular support services for staff but also step in during traumatic incidents.

Advertisement

"In a lot of cases employers are not sure what support they should be giving or they are also affected so can't give the support needed," said Benestar CEO Julie Cressey.

Traumatic incidents like the White Island eruption can have a lasting impact on workplaces. Photo / Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust
Traumatic incidents like the White Island eruption can have a lasting impact on workplaces. Photo / Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust

"We send trained professionals where they are needed, whether it be on-site, to the hospital or an individual's home so they get immediate support."

Cressey said traumatic incidents such as this week's White Island eruption, earthquakes and incidents where there is loss of life needed both immediate and long term action.

In some cases, people had lost colleagues but were still needed to work - often with increased pressure or workload.

"Losing a member of your work family can be devastating and a lot of bosses don't know what support to offer," Cressey said.

"Sometimes the whole workplace is affected but they can't take the time off so we offer advice and access to other help providers."

Having easy access to the right help minimised long term impact on individuals and helped managers care for their teams.

Traumatic incidents like the Christchurch earthquakes and the Christchurch terror attacks had seen a jump in the number of companies using the services of EAPS.

Advertisement
Multiple businesses suffered trauma and loss during the Christchurch earthquakes. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Multiple businesses suffered trauma and loss during the Christchurch earthquakes. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Benestar responds to more than 5000 incidents each year and provided ongoing counselling and care to numerous companies.

"There is also an increasing number of companies who are seeing the benefit of using counselling services and extending this for staff.

"A number have increased the number of free sessions if they know that is what is needed to help a staff member recover."

Having access to EAP services and counselling was also seen as a significant wellness benefit for jobseekers.

An increasing number of companies offer comprehensive wellness packages which include benefits such as gym memberships or boot camps, flexible work hours and access to free counselling.