The high-profile mass shootings in the U.S. over the past month – the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and the grocery store killings in Buffalo – are the latest distressing events for Americans during an era defined by COVID-19, the Ukraine war and economic uncertainty.

With this mess of traumatic events potentially contributing to employees’ worsening mental health, employers are beginning to consider how they can assist their struggling workforce. Simply put, HR leaders should make it a goal to check on their workers and encourage them to prioritize their mental health during these difficult times.

“With employees already stretched physically and emotionally, these troubling events can take a toll,” said David Graves, GroupOne’s HR guru and business sales director. “We need to remember that employees are not just workers, they are people. It’s a company’s duty to support its employees while they try and cope with these events.”

Here are a few ways HR leaders can help employees in wake of the recent mass shootings.

Promote mental health resources. The shootings only add to the growing rates of anxiety and depression for employees in the midst of the pandemic. Informing employees of the company’s available mental health resources is an important strategy. An email reminding employees about these resources and how to access them would be beneficial.

Acknowledge the stress. A simple message acknowledging employee angst from the company CEO or manager is easy and effective. “In some ways, we live in a society where there’s a stigma around mental health,” Graves said. “Destigmatize it by saying, ‘We know this is a difficult time.’ If you hear that an employee is struggling, then try to strategize. Extend a timeline and consider redelegating some work.”

Check in. HR leaders should check in during team meetings and individually to ask workers how they are doing. Employers should remember their employees are humans first and realize they could potentially be feeling fear and depression. Let your employees know they are supported.

Provide balance. When traumatic events happen, it provides an opportunity for employers to encourage balance and time off to cope with stress. Try to avoid a culture of long hours as a badge of honor. HR leaders should empower employees by establishing a culture of support that emphasizes self-care.

Train managers. Managers carry a high level of burden as they juggle the feelings of their workers. Organizations should provide adequate training to serve these oftentimes difficult responsibilities. Training should focus on helping managers find the right balance between being empathetic, without taking on the role of a mental health counselors, which they are not trained to do.

The information and opinions expressed are for educational purposes only and are based on current practice, industry related knowledge and business expertise. The information provided shall not be construed as legal advice, express or implied.