The response team members are the key to a high-quality response. To make sure these crucial resources are performing at top capacity you must take care of them, and make sure they are taking care of themselves. The emergency response leadership must spend time and money on this important matter, “Staff Care.”
The term “Staff Care” refers to measures you, the management, take to deal with stress on individuals and the team. The causes of stress can be both dramatic (having experienced the trauma of the natural disaster or conflict to which you are responding), or constant smaller irritations (being overworked and not having any privacy in the guest house).
Keep in mind that perhaps the single most effective way to reduce cumulative stress on the response team is to have the right number of experienced staff working on the response in clearly-defined, commonly understood roles. This is, of course, very difficult to achieve, for many reasons. But see the Staffing Plan, Organization Chart, and Update Organization Chart exercises for some thoughts on getting the right people.
Of course, even if you get staffing just right, there will still be many things causing stress. You, as part of the emergency response leadership, must pay attention to these issues – and staff should see that you are paying attention.
In an emergency, especially at the beginning, it is impossible to meet all staff care needs. The important thing is to make sure things are getting better as time goes on, and that staff see this. When needs cannot be met, make sure staff members understand the reasons why.