Emotional Support: The Missing Link

emotional support

Life as a mobile worker can bring unforeseen stress and strain. Dealing with the complexity of business travel or life abroad can impact your mobile workforce's health and wellbeing. Below you will read a case study which explains how to best mitigate business disruption when faced with an unforeseen incident.

The Scenario:

Three couples from the United States were in Prague for a work conference. Prior to the conference, they decided to take a road trip to explore the countryside. Their vehicle collided with an oncoming truck 100 km outside of Prague. Tragically, two women died, both their husbands were uninjured. The surviving woman was in a critical condition, while her husband had sadly been killed in the accident.

The critically injured woman was airlifted from the scene of the accident by emergency services to a local hospital. She needed immediate surgery to resolve her life threatening injuries. Her children and family travelled to Prague and remained by her side throughout her hospital stay.

The Challenge:

This very tragic accident left all survivors and their families in a very sensitive state. Their employer now faced a challenge which needed to be delicately handled. The immediate concern, following the physical trauma, was guaranteeing the emotional wellbeing of the individuals involved. After such a traumatic incident, shock, denial and disbelief were highly likely. The employer was unsure of when it was most appropriate to offer psychological support to the uninjured survivors. Their assumption, like most, was that the survivors would request support if they felt it was necessary.

The other challenge was that the incident occurred in a foreign country. Although Prague has high quality emergency services and medical care, the differences from US local medical treatments, language and procedures was prominent.

The Solution:

Neither of the surviving husbands ever requested emotional support.  However, our experts knew that the employer needed to proactively engage and provide support for their psychological wellbeing. Once we were notified of the incident, we made contact with our partner Workplace Options (WPO).  WPO was able to deploy a local counsellor to support the survivors and their families. With this in mind, the employer agreed to utilise the local support from WPO, as it would both mitigate any prolonged psychological health issues as well as save costs.

Emotional support

A day session was arranged with the counsellor, the survivors and their families. The counsellor validated that there were no critical immediate psychological issues, and that the husbands were able to travel back to the United States. They were, however, going through a phase of denial and were susceptible to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). WPO was able to advise the employer and their colleagues on the physical and psychological signs they needed to look out for and what to do in the case of any future incidents.

Because of the language barrier, we deployed a local nurse to help advise the surviving wife and her family while in hospital. They were able to provide medical and non-medical translation services and reassure the family that their mother was receiving the appropriate level of care. 

We also deployed a local coordinator to assist with any on the ground support including liaising with the funeral home, local authorities, and the US embassy. Both local representatives were able to communicate back to the employer so they remained up to date on the incident. 

After initiating these solutions, the employer knew they had taken the right approach to protect the emotional wellbeing of their employees. The survivors continued to receive treatment and support to ensure a smooth recovery and were able to return to work.

In Summary:

When on a business trip or deployed in a foreign country, your people may be exposed to unexpected situations, whether it be minor or severe. Distance from loved ones, new environments, or a serious accident can all trigger stress and anxiety. Taking a proactive approach to offering emotional support services can provide the following benefits:

  • Stress Impacts Business Continuity: exposure to new environments, minor medical conditions or simply being too far from loved ones can impact your mobile workforce. These events trigger stress and anxiety. This can lead to distraction, business disruption or even something more serious.
  • Peace of Mind: in times of stress or anxiety, your workforce needs professional emotional support often at short notice and in their native language. Timely support can make the difference between controlling a situation and an event spiralling out of control. Easy access to services through a single point of contact help your people make the right decisions at a critical time.
  • Wellbeing: our short term counselling support services assist your people with the psychological issues, wherever, whenever. Your mobile workforce will have their medical, safety and emotional needs addressed by a single incident manager, in a holistic way via a single assistance number.

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Authored by:

WPO and International SOS