Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
(Editor’s Note: A huge thank you to Carrie Cherveny, senior vice president of strategic client solutions at HUB International, and Eric Peterson MSOD, an educator and speaker on inclusion and diversity for their help with this article. I was looking for resources and asked for some assistance which was very much appreciated.)
Over the past week, a war has started in Israel and Gaza. And there is still a war going on in Ukraine. Today’s article isn’t to talk about how these wars started and what’s currently happening. I want to take a moment to talk about employees and their needs during conflict.
Our workplaces are diverse. We have individuals of all religions, including non-religious believers, in our workforce. And even if someone doesn’t speak about their beliefs, it doesn’t mean they don’t have them. It’s possible organizations have employees with family in a war zone or close to a war zone. Employees might be worried, distracted, and possibly angry about what’s going on.
Employees might be wondering if there’s something they can do to help. So, I wanted to share some resources that could be helpful. Please keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list.
If your organization has an employee assistance program (EAP), wellbeing programs, or mental health benefits, employees might want to utilize those programs. HR departments should be regularly reminding employees about these benefits because employees might be too conflicted to come to HR and ask about how to use them.
In addition to internal programs, organizations need to be aware that employees might encounter workplace conflict and harassment. Alex Alonso, chief knowledge officer at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), wrote a book titled “Talking Taboo: Making the Most of Polarizing Discussions at Work” that might be insightful and helpful at this time.
Speaking of SHRM, if you’re a member, you have access to Express Requests. This is a section of the SHRM website where their knowledge advisors curate information about a specific subject. SHRM does have an express request available on the Israel – Hamas War. Be sure to check it out.
Also, Eric B. Meyer, an employment attorney with the firm of Fisher Broyles, published an article on “5 Fantastic Resources to Help Your Business Address Antisemitism in the Workplace”. Eric has been writing about how the events in Israel might impact the workplace, so if you’re not already following his work, check out his blog “The Employer Handbook”.
Several community- and faith-based organizations have indicated that they will be trying to help the victims of the attacks. Time published an article titled “How to Help Victims of the Israel – Hamas War” that includes a list of organizations offering support including the Alliance for Middle East Peace, The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, The Red Cross, and Save the Children.
It’s also possible that your local community- and faith-based groups are trying to help as well. For instance, your local synagogue, Jewish Community Center, mosque, Islamic Community Center, and / or church.
One more thing. There’s a lot of information being circulated via the internet and social media. I’ve already seen misinformation being shared and I’m sure you have too. Now is a good time to remind ourselves that “Media Literacy is a Business Competency” and be alert to online information. This is one more way that we can be supportive during this time of conflict.
As a human resources professional, I know that sometimes employees are reluctant to share that they’re hurting. And when I say employees, I mean employees at every level. Sometimes an executive might feel they have to “stay strong” for the team. If you know of a resource that would be helpful to the HR community during this time of conflict, please share it in the comments. Having a list of resources available can be helpful. You don’t have to wait until someone asks. Just bookmark the page in case you need it.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while at the Wynwood Art District in Miami, FL43