South Africans have been left devastated following the flooding disaster in Kwa Zulu Natal this week which claimed the lives of hundreds and has left thousands destitute. People were killed when their homes collapsed on them due to the heavy rains, others lost their lives as the overflowing rivers washed away the banks securing their homes. As city officials comb through true destruction, more and more bodies are to be found.

Schools and businesses in the areas have been severely impacted by the roads being washed away resulting in closure in a bid to allow rescue efforts to get under way. Businesses are expected to experience even more financial turmoil as the days pass and they do not open, resulting in a loss of revenue.

The province is still recovering from the blows of the looting last year which contributed to a large loss of jobs and infrastructure. The latest natural disaster has again opened a bigger hole to the economy in the KZN region with scores of people having lost everything.

As much as the people of Durban have been dealt with the destruction, family and friends across the country and world have been feeling helpless in the situation. There is a sense of despair as most are unable to reach their loved ones and help them rebuild following the disaster. It is also heart breaking for individuals to see how families whose homes were around for years, now reduced to rubble.

The circulating of WhatsApp images and videos will be the talk at the office for a while. It will also be a discussion for those who have loved ones directly impacted by the devastation. It is for this reason and for those who have lost whatever they had in the flood that businesses should provide support to their staff during this crisis.

Here are a few ways for businesses to support staff during a crisis: 

  • The first step is to ensure efficient communication with staff. Leaders and managers need to communicate with all staff around this time of devastation. Check in to see that all staff are fine. Use all channels and platforms to ensure no staff member is left out. This will ensure that you are kept up to date on their circumstances and you can issue help to those directly impacted by the devastation.
  • Ensure there are steps being taken by the company to offer recovery assistance. As a business it is important to understand exactly what circumstances your team member might find themselves in. Once you have checked in and have a count of the staff members that are destitute, initiate the recovery support plan and help the employee regain their personal life.
  • It will also be advantageous to start collection drive within the office. As much as there are already numerous organisations gathering funds for the people impacted by the devastation, it will be better if your business offers help to its staff directly. Get other staff members to volunteer and start a collection drive to help those left without a home to rebuild their lives.
  • In the midst of ensuring staff are being taken care of, it is important to reach out to customers. A message of concern can be sent to clients indicating that you are making efforts to be back online as soon as possible. If there are staff that have been impacted by the flooding that deal first hand with clients this should be communicated to ensure clients are made aware of the circumstances in the office.
  • Once normalcy has been established, ensure trauma counselling is available for those who need it. People have lost more than one family member in this time. They have also lost their home and belongings. This will leave a sense of frustration and depression for returning staff members. It is for this reason as a business you should prioritise you staff mental wellness.

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