PTSD is one of the most common conditions affecting veterans, with up to 20% of service members involved with the Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom operations being affected each year.
Because PTSD is an invisible condition, it can pose a problem for even the most diligent of employers trying to make the workplace a safer environment for veterans.
If you have ex-service members working for your company, it’s important to bear in mind that they may experience symptoms of PTSD at some time during their employment with you. If you know of employees who live with PTSD, here’s what you can do to make the workspace safer for them.
Recognize The Condition And Encourage An Open Dialogue
If you foster an open environment in which veterans feel empowered to voice their concerns, you’ll be in a much better position to accommodate their needs. While specific symptoms and their severity will vary from person to person, PTSD can often lead to memory difficulties, flashbacks and poor concentration, which can all be dangerous in a work environment.
This puts employees at the risk of personal injury at work, which can often lead to complex legal cases: this can be a problem for employers, as they are not permitted to retaliate to legal action taken against them by staff, according to legal experts at fvflawfirm.com.
Encouraging veterans to be open about their condition and allowing them time off for mental health appointments will help to reduce this risk: a 2012 study by Davis et al found that veterans with PTSD receiving mental health treatment were more likely to succeed in employment.
Make Small Allowances In The Working Environment
If you’re aware of the specific needs of your ex-military employees, you can then provide them with small changes in the working environment that can make the world of difference to their health and safety at work.
This could include providing them with noise-canceling headphones to minimize distractions; increasing the amount of natural light to improve concentration and reduce distress; allowing them to choose their seat so they can see the whole environment while they’re working; making sure corridors and parking areas are well lit, and granting extra time to perform tasks.
Be Aware Of Individual Requirements
By discussing the needs of each employee sensitively with them, you can learn the precise nature of their needs. If a veteran’s PTSD relates to an incident that occurred in a vehicle, it may be that it would be best for their role not to include driving or traveling to meetings by car. If they are hyper-vigilant as a result of their experiences, make sure that other employees know that sudden noises or surprises may distress them, and allow them to sit somewhere that they can clearly see the entrance so that nothing takes them unawares.
PTSD can be difficult to accommodate because it’s not always obvious when someone is experiencing difficulties. However, if your company employs veterans, the likelihood that some will experience PTSD at some point during their employment is high. By creating a safe space in which employees can voice their concerns and alert you to their needs, you can make small changes to improve their safety in the workplace.