The terrorist attack on New York's World Trade Center could cause considerable long-term problems for thousands of workers in the financial services sector, warns a London-based psychologist. Dr Ronit Lami, who heads the affluenza practice at Allenbridge, a financial research and consultancy firm says that many workers could go on to develop trauma-related conditions. This could have a significant impact on the eventual recovery of the financial services sector in New York and London unless employers take appropriate action. "Everyone appreciates that the suffering has only just begun for those affected by these terrible attacks", she said. "But few employers understand what a difference they can make to the recovery of their employees."
Those most seriously affected by the disaster will experience symptoms of Post
Wealth Management, November 2001
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Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Experts estimate that between 50-70% of those involved in large-scale disasters experience symptoms of PTSD at some stage, with half of one group still seriously affected 14 years later. "The response of firms to symptoms of PTSD is crucial in determining whether and how quickly staff return to work," she continued. "One firm in London I read of sent 2000 staff home right after the disaster. These people had just heard their colleagues die over the telephone".
Balancing support with understanding is crucial, according to Dr Lami. "People need to share what they have been through," she continued. "And employers need to initiate this. But people also need time alone to grieve before they feel able to work again.
"Large institutions often misjudge this - the Police Service have been guilty of this in the UK. They may pressurise employees into returning to work early or not train managers to deal with symptoms of shock or trauma. In many cases this leads to resentment and subsequent very poor performance".
"With a disaster of this scale, companies who do not address the problem quickly and efficiently will face severe disruption to morale and productivity over the long term," she warned.
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