When is the right time to resume ‘business as usual’ after an event as horrific as the Paris attacks?


From football matches, such as England v France, through to more low key events in your office, how and when do you return to ‘business as usual’ after an event so horrific as the acts of terrorism seen in Paris, or a tragedy within your local community or organisation.

There will be businesses across Paris this week that had launches, events and celebrations planned for week commencing 16th November that will have been thrown into a debate of the pros and cons of continuing or postponing.  If we cancel, do the terrorists win? If we go ahead, do we look like we don’t care?

People before Profit

Above all, the main message to convey to your teams is people before profit.  It is a time to look to your personal and corporate values to guide your decisions.

It is also a time to understand your own emotions. In everyday life, we watch events on the News with feelings of sorrow and empathy, we then go into work and begin taking calls and answering e-mails and our daily routines once again become our main focus.

In situations of such magnitude however, it is a time for channelling those emotions and not allowing them to slip to the back of your mind, because now is the time to demonstrate to your teams that, as a leader, you’re aware that sometimes business does not need to take priority over people.

Your colleagues are human and human beings are social creatures, we take comfort in sharing our experiences and feelings with each other in order to seek validation and this reflection time is important to us in order to process our thoughts, deal with our feelings and adjust to changed circumstances.

Rewarded with Loyalty

Allowing your colleagues time for reflection, time to talk to each other, demonstrates that they are valued by the organisation.  It also allows you as a leader to judge for yourself what the tone of your communications should be and when people are showing signs of returning to normal.

We all know that we return to normal after major events such as 9/11 and 7/7 and we will again after the Paris attacks of November 13th but it’s how quickly you do that speaks volumes to your colleagues about your suitability as their employer and earns you their loyalty.

So first check your own team and their families are safe and unaffected and open for business if appropriate to do so — but don’t rush to return to business as usual: take a steady approach, modify your tone, show empathy, allow people time to talk and deal with their emotions and let them guide you on when is the right time to move on; but, above all, put people before profit and you and your business will ultimately still benefit from a workforce that is loyal and committed.

Darya Meszkes