Business Owner Escalation in Handling Workplace PTSD is Essential

Stressed Employees

At top authority, employers are called to raise their awareness and ensure their PTSD policies and accommodations are stronger than ever before. At Ollenburg LLC our work creates workplace wins, people wins and financial wins. The right handling of PTSD creates best possible outcomes for all and addresses newly escalated risks and opportunities. The following blueprint serves to assist.

Prepare Your Company’s Leaders

1. Train Your Leaders in Clues and Prevention: Well-prepared lists of specific behaviors and physical clues are available through The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Ollenburg LLC, Crisis Prevention Institute,,, Mayo Clinic, Legal Cases and Definitions and many other dedicated training sources. Communicating this training to your leaders not only creates a crisis prevention step but also provides a definition of reasonable suspicion to ensure all steps taken thereafter are compliant, non-discriminatory and in protection of all.

2. Keep Corrective Action, Discipline and Termination in Well-trained Leadership Hands: No manager should ever be empowered in these without proper training. Where clues, reasonable suspicion or ADA accommodations for PTSD and mental health conditions are present, it can be especially critical to control timing, language, methodology and overall approach.

3. Enforce a Well-trained Anti-harassment, Anti-bullying Inclusion Culture: While a positive culture attracts, engages and retains top employees and is essential to the employer brand; a negative culture can trigger PTSD, panic attack or other manifestation. Workplace violence can become a threat where proper training is absent; yet relaxed productive minds are the result of proper training.

4. Never Underestimate the Impact of Company Change: Leadership change, M&A, relocation, job change, policy/practice change and/or fear of security and the unknown may trigger mental health trauma. Personal identity, relationships, culture, communication and practice alignment should be meticulously addressed by behavior and talent management scientists to properly navigate workplace change.

Incorporate PTSD and All Mental Health into ADA Policy Compliance

A well-crafted ADA policy ensures that employees know the onus is on them to request accommodation timely and provide properly detailed medical certification. A designated privacy officer should be well-trained and diligent with that info, protecting HIPAA and personal privacy on a “need to know” basis. Identification of triggers is critical to PTSD accommodation and must be weighed against the likelihood of avoiding those triggers during the normal course of expected job performance without undue hardship or a change in performance expectations. Similar to FMLA, best ADA practices will avoid employee abuse and also ensure all employees and company risks are properly safeguarded.

Teach Triage without Overstepping

PTSD, PTS, moral injury, generalized anxiety, depression, panic attacks, bipolar and any mental health or mood condition each call for different treatment plans and manifest in unique ways. The employer’s role is to enlist specialist practitioners for diagnosis and treatment swiftly upon reasonable suspicion or when benefits conditions are met per consistently administered policy. As with any medical condition, don’t allow treatment by the untrained, or the situation could exacerbate for the employees and employer.

Consider Supplemental Mental Health Benefits and Lock Down the Privacy Info

State approaches to PTSD coverage vary and workers’ compensation may or may not apply. Whether the job description is first responder or private sector also weighs into coverage along with job description, job environment and medical history. As employer-sponsored and/or voluntary buy-ups, supplemental mental health benefits should be considered in the offering mix. As with all medical information, privacy lock down must include application for benefits where medical information is revealed. HIPAA, EEOC, PHI and personal privacy compliance is essential.

Knowing the PTSD diagnosis is becoming increasingly more common outside our military veteran community, we recently sat down with Andy Weins (Friend, Sergeant First Class & Serial Entrepreneur) for his thoughts. Amidst energetic exchange of impactful ideas on handling PTSD and leadership protocol, Andy spoke to the 5 stages of grief as applying to PTSD and the importance of knowing an individual’s triggers through careful ADA compliance. We further agreed that military trauma need not be isolated by language, nor should PTSD be exclusively applied to our military veterans. Real trauma includes and extends beyond military experience. We at Ollenburg LLC have tremendous respect for our military, and it is our mission to ensure the best possible treatment and workforce engagement for veterans acclimating to civilian workforce. We bounced some great ideas with Andy!

Our experiences in crisis response are gained primarily through the reactive clients who didn’t hire us in time for prevention. For those employers we’ve successfully addressed active shooter threats, sexual abuse including that against children, workplace violence, and so much more. We credit each of our savvy clients for recognizing the clues in time for intervention and finding the right resources with diligent care. Those who have been proactive in hiring us or otherwise following this blueprint for prevention have been able to mitigate or avoid crisis, so we can validate this blueprint through experience.

Jessica Ollenburg, CMC, CPCM, is Managing Partner of Ollenburg LLC and former CEO of HRS, Inc., enjoying a 35+ year legacy with topic success. Delivering executive consulting relative to talent management, employment law and consulting Chief HR Officer solutions, Ollenburg LLC offers discounted programs to Starr Group clients. Please contact Ollenburg LLC for more information, including bios, methodology and sources of statistics published herein., or 262.227.9333.