09:18pm Thursday 09 July 2020

Post-traumatic stress and work

While the last big shake seems a distant memory for most people, the aftermath of the 2010 and 2011 events are still very much a major part of Cantabrians’ daily focus, UC business expert Tony Mortensen says.

“Whether it’s the continued frustration caused by congested traffic or the disruptions to families and business as they relocate for remediation work, the imminent result is one of an increased feeling of daily stress.

“We have identified a growing feeling among many managers that this behavioural trend is definitely emerging.

“Many organisations are starting to see the true impact of the earthquakes on their people, with an increase in everything from petty arguments through to more serious incidents becoming more prevalent than ever before. 

“Discussions with a number of human resource managers and business owners across Canterbury have indicated that even the most traditionally tolerant employee is starting to show signs of pressure. 

“The problem organisations now face is that, whether the stress is work related or personal, the impact on the daily operations is no different.

“Companies need to think about how they can help their people to overcome what is a very difficult period in many employees’ lives. Even the difficulties of dealing with EQC and insurance claims can bring even the calmest personality to breaking point,’’ says Mortensen, director of UC’s Master of Business Administration programme. 

What people need right from their employer is understanding and clear leadership.  But understanding does not mean acceptance of bad behaviour. Christchurch people need to remember that the recovery stage is not solely about the rebuild of physical buildings, but also about the spirit of the people.

“The importance of our city’s post-disaster cultural development must not be overlooked and the potential for Cantabrians and their work to flourish should not be undervalued.

“We are now at a stage where our businesses can either see both the physical and emotional challenges as a setback, or as an opportunity. Effective leadership can provide the platform that the people of this city need to develop positively from this situation.

“The emotional strain on people must be carefully considered if our local businesses are to be successful and achieve their potential in this next stage of the recovery. The recently quoted $40 billion spend over the next ten years provides an unprecedented opportunity to most businesses. However, the real challenge will be keeping staff motivated and focused so that we can all benefit.’’

Mortensen has been dealing with a number of organisations in Christchurch and researching how they and their employees have been coping this year.

For further information please contact:
Kip Brook
Media Consultant
Student Services and Communications
University of Canterbury
Ph: (03) 364 3325
Mobile: 027 5030 168

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