Sometimes things happen to individuals that are traumatic. Over time, however, others generally expect them to just get over it and resume the life that they had. This is not always possible or easy to do.
Over the years I have worked with many people who are not able to function well because of something that had happened to them many years before. One woman had been an employee in a financial institution that was held up by a thief at gunpoint. She never felt comfortable again in any workplace.
Those who have returned from military service also have experienced life-changing situations that limit their ability to function in a healthy manner. People who have been raped or been involved in serious accidents also can be affected negatively in most areas of their life.
A diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is often given to people who have experienced actual or threatened death or serious injury to themselves or someone else which resulted in accompanying feelings of horror.
The person suffers from increased arousal, re-experiences flashbacks and avoids stimuli that would trigger the symptoms. Sleep disturbances and other symptoms not only can interfere with relationships and regular activities but might also lead the individual to develop addictions in their attempts to avoid the heightened feelings. Anger, exaggerated startle response and anxiety also can interfere with the person's ability to function well.
But Post-Traumatic stress Disorder is not the only form of trauma that can affect a person negatively. Loss of a parent or loved one can be traumatic. Workplace bullying, immigration or even serious physical illness can be traumatic for a person. If you or someone in your business is having difficulties with fear, lack of trust, anxiety or other issues that might be associated with a past trauma there is good news. Effective treatments can be provided by a professional who has expertise in this area. Asking for support from others, maintaining a regular routine, taking care of your health, avoiding drugs and alcohol as well as isolation can all be helpful.
As an employer, you will need to be able to recognize that the person who has been traumatized may not have the control that they need to perform their duties. That doesn't mean that they don't want to do well. It means that right now they just can't. But understanding and compassion must be balanced with sound judgement. You need to make sure that your business is protected as clients still need to be served and tasks completed. Try to encourage the employee to seek help and, if possible, approve a medical leave so that they have the time necessary to recover. At the same time, find ways to maintain and grow your business so it can also be healthy.