Advice

Could HR solve...? Jaws 2

4 Jun 2020 By Elizabeth Howlett

After experiencing a traumatic event, a police chief is left to deal with it alone

The problem

After successfully defending Amity Island from the jaws of a great white shark, Chief Martin Brody’s nerves are understandably frayed. So when a whale carcass washes ashore he suspects another beast lurks in the murky depths. Brody’s anxiety reaches fever pitch, and he shoots at a school of bluefish – mistaking them for a giant shark – causing panic on a public beach. He is fired as chief of police, but if HR was involved would things have played out differently? 

The solution

It’s not every day that such a traumatic workplace event as dealing with a gigantic man-eating shark happens, “let alone twice”, assures Gabriela Matias, head of people at Thriva.

There are clear signs Brody is experiencing post-traumatic stress symptoms, says Matias: “HR should have ensured he was given health checks to confirm he was fit for work and offered services such as post-trauma counselling, especially after what happened to Quint in the first film.”

Also, creating a procedure on what to do when a shark is spotted and implementing training would have given Brody guidance, says Matias: “Then he might not have caused such a major panic.”  

Even if the incident at the beach was not preventable, HR should have played a bigger role in supporting Brody, she notes. They could have met with him to identify potential triggers in the work environment, assess fitness to work and signpost him to professional services. She adds: “HR should assess whether any reasonable adjustments could be made to support Brody’s mental health, such as taking leave and having a phased return, or changing working arrangements to reduce exposure to triggers.” 

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