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11 Both family and community members represent a tremendous What Is Psychological Trauma source for recovery for employees, which can aid in the recov- and What Causes It? ery process and reduce down time (Paton, 1999). According to Paton (1999), local government agencies might pursue this The physical and psychological response to any demand-- cost effective strategy of establishing goodwill and consider positive or negative--is stress. Positive stress includes responses a similar course of action. This course of action should be to events such as getting a promotion, getting married, or considered as a comprehensive human resources continu- graduating from college. However, the term stress usually ity plan, which considers traumatic impacts for its staff. This describes responses to negative demands such as taking a test, HR plan could use vulnerability data to screen staff so that getting divorced, or performing under pressure. When faced the organization identifies the demands of key staff and with a source of negative stress, people must evaluate the sit- what effects of trauma they may experience as a result of the uation; determine the realistic level of risk (and differentiat- event (Paton, 1999). ing that from imagined or irrational perceptions of risk); and Paton (1999) identifies several factors that may constrain then evaluate how they are going to cope with the situation business continuity planning. Those include underestimating based on their own personal resources (e.g., physical strength, the risk of event occurrence and its consequences, over- the ability to think clearly in a crisis, basic problem-solving estimating the organization's existing capabilities, and ambigu- abilities) and the potential for support from others (e.g., emo- ity of employee roles and responsibilities. The goal of the plan tional support, access to necessary tangible resources; Lazarus, should be to enable each organization to respond effectively 1966; Lazarus and Folkman, 1984). to any type of event. Lastly, Paton (1999) explains that orga- The most extreme form of negative stress is traumatic stress-- nizational effectiveness is influenced by several organizational stress resulting from a traumatic event or situation. People characteristics and the degree of flexibility within the system. experience traumatic stress in response to events such as nat- If an organization is rigid in nature and there are internal ural disasters like earthquakes or hurricanes, motor vehicle conflicts present, these variables will inhibit effective organi- collisions, physical or sexual assault/abuse, combat, industrial zational response. Companies that display this type of rigidity accidents, diagnosis of a life-threatening illness, life-threatening may experience higher absenteeism, turnover, and perfor- medical situations like a heart attack, terrorist attacks, torture, mance decline. If the organization is more organic and flexible, or as in the present discussion, airline disasters. the reconciliation of staff needs tends to occur more rapidly. A commonality among these traumatic situations is that The most important strategy for key executives is to "accept they all involve a threat to one's life or the lives of others. When organizational ownership of the crisis and its implications" people try to cope with such situations and are not successful (Paton, 1999, 11). in this coping, it can result in feelings of helplessness, rage, and Paton (1999) indicates that "a key factor in disaster recov- resentment about the loss of control and random nature of ery and safeguarding staff well-being involves training specif- these situations (Kardiner & Spiegel, 1947). In large-scale ically to prepare for disaster work" ( 16). It is also necessary disasters, like the terrorist attacks of the World Trade Cen- to train for an all-hazard event and that both technical and ter on September 11, 2001, the devastation may threaten or mental health preparedness is needed and the development destroy the existing social structure and order. The loss of of a well-thought response and recovery plan for the organi- social structure and particularly the lack of effective leader- zation is essential. Management and managers play key roles ship and guidance in restoring social order and safety can in the recovery of any organization. It is vitally important that contribute to the development of mental health problems of managers plan, manage, and practice recovery scenarios with those involved in traumatic situations and particularly mass their employees; this will identify the roles, tasks, and respon- disasters (Noy, 2004). sibilities for each employee group. As noted above, traumatic stress occurs when an event is A disaster may render certain employees, or employee perceived as life threatening to an individual or others and groups incapable of performing their jobs; it is the role of which severely challenges or compromises one's coping capac- manager and human resources to understand this issue and ity (Noy, 2004). It involves activation of the human survival find the appropriate support that is needed. Paton (1999) response--a physiological and psychological response that explains that recent thinking about support programs for staff prepares the body and mind to fight, flee, or even freeze. In is focusing on developing resilient organizational cultures. order to fight or flee, this response causes a part of the body's This would include "empowering staff and managers, and nervous system, called the autonomic nervous system (ANS), providing them with the knowledge, and skills to design and to prepare for these activities (e.g., fighting off an assailant implement appropriate intrinsic risk-reducing and recovery or running away from a wild animal) by increasing heart and strategies" ( 26). Due to the sheer magnitude of some events, respiration rates, dilating pupils, narrowing attention and this may prove to be a cost-effective strategy. increasing vigilance, and increasing blood flow to muscles.