Reintegration into the workplace
Returning home is the start of a new challenge for hostages. As an employer, there is a lot you can do to make this transition easier. Not only will this enable the returning hostage to get back on their feet quickly, it is also likely to reduce the impact on their colleagues and the world of the organization overall.
Return to work interview
It can be helpful to have a return to work interview. This provides an opportunity to talk about the individual’s needs, challenges and you may need to manage together such as working hours or the nature of the office environment, and the composition of their role. This can then be turned into a basic return to work plan, which can be reviewed together on a regular basis.
Single point of contact for hostage
The returning hostage is likely to be overwhelmed and struggle to retain information. You can help their immediate transition by offering them a single point of contact to simplify communication. As well as minimizing stress for the individual, it will also help your organization to better understand what they need and ensure they are receiving the necessary support as one person will have an overview.
Managing practical assistance
The returning hostage may have immediate practical needs. You will remove unwelcome stress for them and their family by offering this support. They may need to replace lost or damaged items, such as phones or laptops. Ensure they have phone contracts and internet connections. Not only will this remove the stress of making these arrangements, it will also ensure they are able to stay connected to friends and family.
They might need interim accommodation, especially if they are trying to avoid unwanted media attention.
They might require help with paperwork, bills or suppliers. Some families might not have been able to stay on top of these things, or may not have been aware of everything that needed to be done. If they live alone, check they have gas and electricity supply and that their phone line is working.
Peer support is vital for those returning to work after being held hostage. But colleagues often struggle to know what to say or do for the best. Everyone is different, so ask the returning hostage how they would prefer their colleagues to behave.
Brief colleagues before the individual’s return to work. Provide staff with basic information about the kidnapping to help demystify the situation and help them to behave more naturally. Provide them some basic understanding of the potential impacts of a traumatic event, so they can understand changed behavior or sensitivity about certain situations or places. Where a person’s job will be impacted by the returning hostage’s changed role or work pattern, be sure to brief them so they understand and can support and accommodate the changes.
Request that colleagues don’t ask too many questions about the kidnapping as this can be intrusive. Encourage them to concentrate on being as supportive as possible, and provide them with concrete examples of what to say and how to behave. They may not understand how to do this without assistance.
Preparing for the long term
Many hostages return to work successfully and quickly return to being able to function as they did previously in the workplace. Others need more assistance and it might take them longer. It is important to stay engaged for the long-term. Many organizations have time limits on assistance, such as counseling services, but for some hostages these needs might last longer or not start until a year or more after their return. It is important to be flexible. See Recovery Over the Long Term and Dealing With the Impacts of Trauma