Just days ago many of us were watching live when the US Capitol was stormed by rioters and protesters (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2021_storming_of_the_United_States_Capitol). Maybe like me, you sat glued to the television, jaw open, in shock that the widely anticipated demonstration managed to not only break through the front gates of the country’s Capitol but also crowd the steps and even breach the doors and storm the halls. What followed was live-streamed mayhem, confusion, violence, and even death.
As we still work through the event and details less than a week after they occurred, online status updates and comments continue to fly from the keyboards of our friends and family members in email and on social networks around the world. And regardless of our political views or suspicions, the conversations and debates continue – some of course more heated and colorful than others. But that’s how we’re talking about it online with friends and family.
What’s proven interesting to me is that I haven’t had a single work call or meeting that hasn’t started with one party sincerely asking the other how they were feeling, and if they were really okay emotionally. There has yet to be a meeting where at least the first 10 minutes weren’t about checking in with others and asking for their comprehension or perspective on the January 6th attacks.
Also often included is commentary related to how companies are handling the issue and resulting politics. From various social networks suspending the 45th president (far too late, some might argue) to our own member company’s like Amazon AWS and Okta terminating services in use by an online platform confirmed to have contributed greatly to the organization – people are talking about the responsibility that leaders have to act. To do something.
What’s not being widely talked about yet (at least in public forums) is if we agree that companies should act or even how we’re connecting these dots with our teams and our colleagues at work. If there was ever a year that prepared us for more personal and difficult conversations with our employees, it was 2020. And as though it was a lengthy and twisted playoff game to the Superbowl of dumpster fire issues we never thought we’d have to tackle at work, we were given an unprecedented challenge to address less than a week into 2021.
I’d like to see some of the conversations elevated outside of the politics – as best we can – and talk about what we’re doing as leaders and practitioners today and preparing for tomorrow. Has your company, or any you’ve heard of, begun to talk about what they will or won’t do, should an employee or candidate be positively identified as actively taking part in last week’s attempt to take over the Capitol? What conversations are taking place around how you or the HR teams will be expected to handle such a situation when the FBI is already asking for tips and leads to identify as many participants as possible? Will this be treated any differently than any other riots, vandalism, crimes, etc.?
hi. I had a meeting w/ my team scheduled the day after the attacks and spent some time talking about it and inquiring about how people were, but not enough. This morning I sent this email :
I wanted to connect with you and let you know, like many of you, I am still processing the events of last week at our State Capitol. Like all of you I share your feelings about what has taken place and the impact and outcome of those events still to come. It may be difficult for you to focus on work right now. I get that. I am feeling the same way.
Your well-being during this time is a priority. Take the time and space you need to process what’s happening and prioritize your own self-care.
I also want to remind you of our EAP resources if you need to speak with a professional to process what’s happening please review the services here Your direct manager, or I am available to support you however we can.
As a company we’re not officially having formal discussions on it but I suspect over the next few weeks we’ll remind employees of the resources we have available to them to deal with this on a personal level. As a TA team we of course have discussed it on an informal level and being aware of how it impacts others differently.
Our organization has not specifically addressed the incident at the capitol. However, our CEO has been very vocal about social justice and our stand on it. I have not yet addressed my team on this issue.
I have not heard of any plans to discuss the events at the capital up on a formal level. I appreciate the Chris bringing up the conversation and took the opportunity to share information from this conversation with my HR leadership on what others have been doing. Thanks all!
The unrest at the Capitol triggered our Emergency Response Command Center. All employees based in DC, Maryland, and Virginia received calls/texts regarding safety, office closures, and the DC curfew. The employee must provide a response to the call or text, if no response is received the system keeps calling. The local SVP personally called all employees living in DC to make sure they were safe and provided EAP resources. On Thursday morning an email from our CEO (focused on safety) was sent to all employees.
I haven’t heard anything about how we’d handle an employee should one be positively identified taking part in the mayhem. Given we are an FFRDC, we have strict employee policies when it comes to social media, protests, etc. If it happened, it would be swiftly handled.