How HR can assist to deal with emotional trauma during times of crises

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Farai Mugabe, Content & Research, The HR Congress

About 977 civilians have been killed, almost 1600 have been injured in Ukraine because of the war as per UN reports on 23 March 2022. The UN refugee agency indicates that more than 3.62 million people have fled war in Ukraine. Europe faces one the greatest humanitarian crises since the Second World War. HR professionals are positioned to apply their professional knowledge and skills to create sustained human capability agendas to address this crisis.

17 March 2022, was a day when the global community met virtually to listen and discuss about how HR can lead organisations through the current humanitarian crises and beyond.1 The webinar which was hosted by Dave Ulrich (RBL Group), Wendy Ulrich (RBL Group) and Mihaly Nagy (The HR Congress) also focused on the current global humanitarian crises including providing Humanitarian Relief brought in as a result of the Russia-Ukraine war. 

Professor Wendy Ulrich reinforced on the need for HR to act as care givers during times of war and crises.1 During the current Humanitarian crises should act as Humanitarian Relief Partners during the pandemic.  In trying to address the traumas that we are facing globally, people tend to look from others for cues.1 People tend to look for advice in terms of how to handle difficult situations. 

Addressing thousands of delegates across the whole world, she said, “We have an instinct to get home. What if home is gone? What if there isn’t a home to get to? We need to help people create a sense of home where there are…” Given such a situations as indicated by Professor Wendy Ulrich, HR as caregivers should step up through making employees affected by a crises feel at home.1 this will help employees such as those affected by the war in Ukraine to be able to quickly adapt and continue value in the companies they serve.

Types of trauma


How people respond to chronic stress, loss and trauma

Ways of dealing with emotional trauma 

There are four key principles (four Cs) you should not forget when dealing with victims of emotional trauma.

  1. Offer basic needs first

In times of a humanitarian crises, stress and trauma, the first thing is to help people with basic needs first. These include shelter, food, health and water. Once you provide with basic needs, people facing a humanitarian crises will be able to become more emotionally stable. In times of war, people often lose their basic needs due to displacement and injuries. By offering basic needs first, they will be able to become much stronger.   

  1. Lift where you stand

The first way to deal with psychological trauma during a time of a humanitarian crises is to lift where you stand. Everyone can help in any small way they can. An Ethiopian proverb says, “When spiders unite, they can tie up a lion.”2 This means that when we combine our efforts together, we will be able to generate a huge impact. HR professionals across the world can help to manage team effort, bring people together and offer them hope for the future.  Sergio Caredda an HR professional has created an online platform entitled, HR for Ukraine. 3 This platform provides vital information on how HR professionals can help organisations and its employees during such trying times. If we can combine all our efforts as HR professionals, we can help save humanity and organisations during times of crises.

  1. Give people a choice

The other means to help people deal with psychological traumas during this humanitarian crises is to give them a choice. Help people by asking what they want to get better or to heal from the process. HR can give people jobs or simply sharing job adverts. HR can give people choices of the sort of humanitarian assistance that they need.


  1. Take care of yourself as well

HR professionals spend much time helping others and yet they forget how to deal with psychological trauma posed on them as individuals. HR has had to be at the frontline of the COVID 19 crises and the current crises in Ukraine where the play the role of caregivers. HR professionals has had to deal with everyone’s problems but there has been no one to deal with HR professionals’ own problems except HR professionals themselves. The 2021 State of People Strategy Report found out that 42% HR teams indicated that emotional exhaustion and burnout are part of the top challenges in HR. 4 HR professionals also have their own challenges that they face in dealing with mental health issues. For HR professionals to be much stronger in dealing with other employees’ issues, they (HR professionals) should be able to manage their own mental health issues first. 

  1. Help people to reflect on the past in order to help them create the future

Help people remember the past special moments which reminds them how good they were. It is important to exercise empathy when raising the past because the painful past can harm them further. Tell the victims how good they were and ensure they reflect on the times that they were successful. This will give them the energy to rise back into becoming their very best. When we fall, we will be able to rise back and stand up again if we reflect on how good we are. 

Tiger Woods a world golf champion whose name is synonymous with golf had a fall from grace in the year 2009 when his extra-marital activities became public. In the year 2013, Tiger Woods was back on top as the world number one again. Tiger Woods’s story is an indication that if we go through the very tough times our lives, we will still be able to rise back to our very best.5 We need to take a time to reflect on the past and rework on ourselves so that we can create an incredible future.


The world has problems and HR needs to partner with organisations to help manage the crises. By becoming Humanitarian Relief partners, HR should rise and help companies manage this humanitarian crises that the world faces.

1RISE! How HR can Lead the Organization Through the current humanitarian crisis, by HR Congress

2When spiders unite, they can tie up a lion, By Debisi Araba –

3HR for Ukraine, by Sergio Carreda – 

42021 Report. State of People Strategy: The Resiliency of People-First Leadership, by Lattice,

5The Rise And Fall And Rise of Tiger Woods by Tony Manfred

Written by: Mihaly Nagy

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