Sometimes our own staff and their families are victims of the natural disaster or violence to which we are responding. For instance, in the 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince, we had many staff who lost family members, their homes, or both.
You will probably face the question of what we can do for these staff.
Below, we list two actions you should consider. Your role as an Emergency First Responder is to consider the situation and make a recommendation on these policies to the CR or Regional Office. They’ll then give their written approval or seek the approval of the appropriate other authorities (RD, EVP HR, or EVP Overops).
- Consider if we should provide trauma counseling for affected staff. See the section on Traumatic Stress.
- Consider whether we should provide some financial or other material assistance for those staff affected by the event.
At times, CPs have granted affected staff a supplement to their salaries for a couple of months after the emergency. Other CPs might decide on a one-time cash grant to staff. Some have been faced with the question of whether or not we should be giving our affected staff the same food and NFIs we are distributing to our beneficiaries.
If you decide to offer material or financial assistance to staff, there are some important ground rules to follow:
- If you are not from the local community yourself, you should involve a senior local staff person in deciding on the benefit details and communicating about it with staff.
- Make sure any such action is approved in detail and in writing by the region before it is announced to staff and given out.
- Make it very clear and widely-known among staff exactly what the criteria are to be eligible for the benefit. This is a highly sensitive issue and mishandling it can lead to unhappiness among staff.
- For any ongoing but temporary benefit (e.g. salary supplements over a few months), make it very clear from the start when the benefit will end. Then send reminders that it will be ending on a couple of key benchmark dates before it ends (for example, with one month to go, two weeks to go, one week, etc.)