The imagery of crashing airplanes was burned into society’s collective conscious following the Sept. 11 attacks. Now with war raging in Iraq, some employees will experience renewed fears associated with air travel.
With this in mind, FGI, a Toronto-based EAP consulting firm, has prepared advice on how to help employees cope with anxiety around air travel.
Signs of anxiety
•Physical symptoms, which commonly range from trembling, nausea, dizziness, sweating, racing heart, breathlessness or a choking sensation.
•Accompanying depression or insomnia.
•Sudden panic attacks which can arise out of the blue or as a spontaneous response to irrational or imagined fears, such as travel to unknown destinations or being on an airplane.
•Anxiety is interfering with the job, family or relationships.
•Refusal to consider air travel under any circumstance or at any time in the future.
How managers can support employees
There are a number of ways managers can recognize and help employees who demonstrate an excessive fear of flying. To lessen employee anxiety around this issue:
•Re-examine the corporate policy around employee safety and security with respect to air travel during times of high alert or travel to global hot spots. Communicate this policy clearly to employees who travel frequently as part of their job. Reassure employees who may believe there will be a negative impact if they refuse to fly that, within your company policy, they do have positive choices.
•Treat anxious employees with respect. Do not judge or downplay their concerns or fears.
•Understand there are many techniques that can be used to successfully manage anxiety in general. Ensure employees have access to information or experts about these techniques.