The Boston Marathon bombing is the latest addition to a growing list of horrific American tragedies.  If your business is anywhere near Boston, it is likely that you have employees that have been impacted in some way by the events of the last week.  Here are a few ways in which you can help support your employees in times like this.

Be sympathetic.

Tragic events almost always impact productivity, make allowances for some loss in productivity.  If you expect business as usual, you will find that employees make mistakes because they are preoccupied by the situation.  Don’t pretend nothing has happened.  Give them the opportunity to focus some energy on the events.  By doing so, you will find that most individuals will return to work more quickly once they have had the opportunity to gather or share information.

Assess any direct involvement.

If any of your employees were directly impacted, determine what they need to address the situation.  Depending on the personal situation, your employee may need someone to talk to, or they may need time off to address issues or perhaps even some financial assistance.  You should listen to the request and make a determination based on the information about the particular situation.  As with all business decisions, you should make sure that you are willing to offer the same arrangement to other employees if the need should arise in similar circumstances.

Look for ways to help

In times of sorrow, many employees find solace in providing some kind of assistance to the victims of the tragedy.  If possible, look for ways to band together as a company to provide assistance.  Perhaps in the form of volunteerism, giving blood or donating money.  Look for something that works within your company culture.  The collective feeling of working together for the benefit of others will most certainly lift employee morale in the wake of a tragedy.

Use the EAP

An employee assistance program, or EAP, is a free service for employees offered by many employers to help with personal and work-related issues.  Professionally trained operators are typically available to help 24 hours a day/7 days a week.  Services are typically available to employees and their family members and offer guidance, assistance, support and solutions to the many problems employees face.  You can use the service as the employer – seeking information on ways to help your employees; your employees can use the service – to seek assistance for their personal situations as well as advice on how to help their family members or co-workers.  This is an often overlooked, valuable benefit for both you and your employees.

Whatever your connection to the events of the past week, it is important to remember that you employ human beings and, as such, we are all susceptible to the effects of tragic events.  By extending patience and understanding, you will contribute to your employees’ ability to adjust to life after this crisis.