Time off good for employees post-quake

Employers granting leave to those affected by the earthquake and involving staff in the new direction of the company are just two of the ways which have been found to help employees cope in the aftermath of a disaster.

University of Canterbury researcher Dr Joana Kuntz has been looking at how organisations can improve their response and recovery in disasters in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes.

Kuntz is working with a team of national and international researchers to identify how organisations can improve their response and recovery from disasters.

"We want to provide Christchurch-impacted businesses with best practice recommendations in the aftermath of the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes," she said.

"The results of this large-scale research project will hopefully provide Christchurch organisations with the necessary tools to become more flexible, proactive and resilient. This will allow local businesses to adapt to the new post-disaster reality."

Research conducted in other disaster-hit areas found the variety of reactions observed from workers after a disaster depended largely on the strategies employed by the organisations to manage their staff.

While some organisations reported low morale, productivity and attendance after the disasters, others actually noted an improvement in employee engagement and performance.

"Organisational leaders and managers have a crucial role in facilitating changes in staff attitudes and behaviours at work," Kuntz said.

Supportive behaviours such as granting leave to employees whose personal lives were affected by the earthquake, involving staff members in the new direction of the company and making appropriate changes to safety procedures were some of the strategies managers can employ to reconnect employees with their work and with the organisation.

Kuntz was developing a survey which she would distribute to a variety of Christchurch businesses across different industries.

The survey aims to identify behaviours and strategies that contributed to improved employee wellbeing and performance after the disasters and resulted in lasting positive effects for businesses and staff.

The Press