Corrections or additions?
This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the
September 19, 2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights
Helping Employees Cope With Grief
On September 11,
a friend at her New York City office. "She works north of the
World Trade Center area," Wilson says. The financial district,
some 20 blocks south of her friend’s office, was burning; some of
its buildings were crumpling. But Wilson’s friend was in no physical
danger. In fact, she told Wilson, it was "`business as usual’"
in her office.
In this case, says Wilson, principal in the Norwil Group, a
human resources firm, that was not a good thing. "It’s
Wilson quotes her friend as saying. "None of the supervisors are
even acknowledging it. They’re not even telling us what time we can
The message, says Wilson, was "We want you to get back to
The effect, she says, will be a day’s work completed more or less
as usual, and an office full of angry, resentful employees, who will
have little inclination ever to go the extra mile for their
or their company.
Wilson’s company works with employers large and small that are falling
short of maximum results because of personnel issues. She is a
of the University of South Florida (Class of 1978) and is studying
for a masters in human resources management at Rutgers. She speaks
on "Stress in the Workplace" at the fall meeting of the New
Jersey Department of Labor Central Region Employer Council on
September 26, at 8 a.m. at the Somerset Marriott. No cost. Call
Often, there are stressed employees in an office. Illness, a death
in the family, a troubled child, a parent in poor health, all of these
situations distract workers. Now, with the entire country trying to
come to grips with the unthinkable tragedy that occurred in a city
just up the road, a city to which so many area residents commute,
no workplace is spared.
"This is a magnification of what happens every day," she says.
"People are numb. They’re saying `I’ve turned on my computer,
but haven’t gotten much done.’" Grief, says Wilson, is "a
major, major stress."
When people are under stress, there are chemical changes in their
bodies. "Parts of the brain shut down," Wilson says. Employers
would be wise to understand this, both for the good of their workers,
and for the good of their businesses. She suggests steps for managers
who want to help their workers to get through this tragedy, and to
become fully productive as soon as possible.
as usual. Whether it’s giving time off to employees who want to help
with rescue efforts, allowing televisions to be on during memorial
services, or just spending time dropping by cubicles to see how
are coping, managers need to let their workers know that they are
aware that they are going through a difficult time.
encourage employees to speak with one another, perhaps by providing
a time and place in which they can do so.
apt to be low, and attention scattered, making this less than an ideal
time to kick off a major campaign.
her career working abroad, says "Americans step up to the plate.
That’s where we excel." The best thing employers can do is to
get their workers involved in helping out. "Right now," she
says, "people are feeling helpless. Get them involved in a blood
drive, a fund raiser." She speaks of a company that bought reams
of white ribbon to put on trees and cars, and of a New Brunswick car
wash that decided to donate a Saturday’s proceeds to the relief
"We’re a very giving people. That’s the spirit that flows through
The outpouring of sympathy for victims of the September
11 tragedy has generated a wave of donations and some major news in
the nonprofit world. In a display of cooperation, various funding
groups have pooled their resources to form The September 11th Fund,
a central fund to help the victims of terrorist attacks in New York
City and elsewhere in the United States. Williams Gas Pipeline, which
has offices on Farber Road, gave $1 million as seed money.
The fund, which can receive donations from across the country, was
established on the very afternoon that the tragedy occurred. For
sake — and to cut costs — it will be administered by just
two groups, the United Way of New York City and New York Community
Trust. Yet it will be supported by local United Ways, United Way of
America, and the Council of Foundations, to which the Princeton Area
Community Foundation (PACF) belongs. Mercer’s United Way gave two
gifts of $25,000, one to the fund and one to the American Red Cross
of Central New Jersey.
"Since two very competent organizations are taking care of it
there, there is no reason to do it here as well," says
Kieling, director of the PACF. "We are recommending that people
use The September 11 Fund in New York."
Relief money will be allocated to emergency assistance agencies and
other nonprofit health and human services agencies. For instance,
donations might be used to help those who now have no income —
the World Trade Center’s shopkeepers, clerks, janitors who may have
survived but don’t have any work, says Kieling. "We haven’t even
seen the human devastation to it yet."
Send donations to The September 11th Fund, c/o United Way of New York
City, 2 Park Avenue, New York 10016 or go to www.uwnyc.org.
"Many of the greatest needs in this community will be related
to post traumatic stress syndrome," says PACF’s Kieling.
As of Friday, September 14, at least 10 New Jersey
had collectively offered 95 temporary workspaces to businesses and
workers displaced as a result of the terrorist attack on the World
Trade Center. They responded to a call from Prosperity New Jersey,
which has created WorkSpaceLink to bring together companies with extra
space with those that need it as a result of the terrorist attack.
the program by sending out dozens of E-mail messages to board members,
corporate friends, and other business associates.
Companies with space to offer can do so by posting it on the
New Jersey website (www.prosperitynj.org) under the heading
Corrections or additions?
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.