12/18/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Recession Causes Bank Robbery Spike

Five Things Employers and Employees Need to Know

The FBI is reporting a spike in the number of bank robberies across the country with $15 million in losses last quarter alone. This is not unusual during economically challenging times. Add the holiday season to the mix, which is typically the time of year the highest number of bank robberies occur, and you have a bank robbery in progress approximately every 20 minutes in our country leaving traumatized employees behind.

I am a former 13-year banking industry executive who survived a home invasion, kidnapping, hostage and bank robbery that is the focus of my book, Held Hostage: The True Story of a Mother and Daughter's Kidnapping, and will be released as a Lifetime movie in May and begins filming for CBS' 48 Hours this month. I have been an expert on the topic of employee protection, education and awareness for the past several years and know all about bank robbery training, what it entails and what it lacks in today's financial institution environment.

Financial institutions have made little improvements in their robbery training procedures over the past 10 years. Stay calm, give the dye pack or hit the silent alarm button when it is safe, get a good description, cover the area for any potential prints... those are the nuts and bolts of any bank robbery training. However, what is missing is the post trauma element that will inform and educate employees about the emotional toll these types of incidents most likely will have on them.

Here are my top five unconventional robbery training tips for employers and employees:

1.Educate yourself on facts/symptoms of PTSD
2.Don't take the robbery personally
3.Give yourself time to re-adjust and heal
4.Don't stuff your feelings, fears or worries
5.Make post-robbery career decisions that are best for you

Team building exercises based on PTSD education is a way for employers to show employees they care enough to get everyone on the same page about this very real aspect of one's banking career. Giving them the option to apply for a different position within the bank is a way to offer an employee the chance to stay with the company when going back to cash handling is a constant reminder they cannot emotionally cope with.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, if left untreated, many times develops into or masks as depression, causes panic or anxiety, sleep disturbance that leave employees unable to concentrate and more. I believe that educating employees on the realities of what a normal response to trauma may be, understanding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, should be incorporated into every new employee orientation packet.

It is my hope that those affected, and those around them, will be better prepared to deal with the aftermath of a bank robbery. Choosing positive recovery after violent trauma leads to positive healing.

To schedule an interview, to hire Michelle Renee for a "5 Things Bank Employers and Employees Need To Know" presentation, or to learn more about Michelle Renee visit her website at