Workplace culture affects mental health and wellbeing. The average adult spends the majority of their waking hours engaged in work-related activities.
A trauma responsive workplace culture is about creating work environments where people feel seen, safe, heard, and are set up for success. Workplace culture can be defined as the “water people swim in” in your business. Culture is the “air we breathe” when we work for a particular organization. Or, when we work in a particular group. Workplace culture impacts employees from the moment they show up at the job. There’s a saying that Sunday is the saddest day of the week. It’s because many workers are deeply dissatisfied with their jobs. Unfulfilled by their day-to-day work.
Workplace culture affects employees from the moment they set the alarm clock the day before reporting to your company.
Company culture affects people’s daily lives before and after they arrive to the office.
Workplace culture and climate affects workers long after they get home and engage with their children, significant others, and neighbors.
For some, psychological safety does not happen until the weekend if they are off and can take a break.
Business leaders can turn to trauma-informed practices to create a psychologically safe workplace culture.
Few employees utilize employee assistance programs, out of fear that their employer will find out about their personal situation.
Here are a few things leaders can do to begin to build trauma responsive workplace culture.
First, we can shift our mindset to being to treat “human resources” as people with lives.
Leaders must recognize that the environment we invite or hire people into affects them. Your employees take the experience of their workday home to their families. On the commute. To the grocery store. To the post office. To the ball game.
We know that what people experience affects their mood. Affects their behavior. Affects if they perceive they are safe or unsafe. That perception of safety or unsafety affects their stress reactions and their stress response system.
Trauma-responsive leaders treat human resources as people with lives and not resources that are meant to be consumed and used.
Workplace culture affects people’s daily lives before and after they arrive to the office.
Second, trauma responsive leaders want to get to know the workforce and their needs. Leaders must ask their people what is happening in their lives and identify the resources that are needed. If you as a supervisor aren’t clear about the stress levels and the quality of life your workers are experiencing, you have a blind spot. That blind spot can be costly, in many ways. Leading while blind will not serve you, your organization nor your workforce well.
The needs you are blind to might be contributing to some of your turnover. Those adversities might be contributing to some of the conflict between colleagues. It might be contributing to some of the tardiness and use of sick days.
You need to understand your workforce and what they are going through.
Remember, six to seven out of ten people report experiencing at least one event that overwhelms their ability to cope. Those are your employees. That’s you. That’s all of us.
Being trauma responsive requires leaders to support employees as they are dealing with overwhelming adversity.
Few employees utilize employee assistance programs, out of fear that their employer will find out about their personal situation. More specifically, employees fear their employer/supervisor won’t handle the information with care and adequate concern.
Third, leaders can be more trauma responsive by embracing and implementing diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism. DEIA and trauma-informed go together.
That means you can and should post a “Black Lives Matter” banner on your media, if that’s where your organization is at. Trauma responsive leaders understand that a social media post and a pledge to equity is just the beginning.
After the solidarity statements are written, then the work continues! Then implement policies, practices, and procedures across the organization that show your value for diversity, equity, inclusion, and your commitment to rooting out racism and bias in your organization. You want to create robust policies and revise those policies as needed.
The way that you did it in the past may not be the way your folks need it to be now in order for them to thrive.
Lastly, walk the talk.
There are few things worse than a workplace that claims to be trauma sensitive, people-focused and committed to diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism but the real experience of the people deviates from that claim.
In courts throughout the country employees are pushing back against toxic workplace cultures. Cultures that are not people centered. Workplaces that are racist. Companies that don’t embrace nor implement diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism (DEIA).
A vision for trauma-informed care and DEIA is only the beginning.
We can help you implement.
To learn more about the trauma-informed and equity-focused work at Youthcentrix® Therapy Services, visit us online at www.youthcentrix.com.
Youthcentrix® provides allied and behavioral health services to individuals, consulting to organizations and a learning lab to accelerate your mastery of trauma informed and equity-focused practices.
Our Master Trauma Informed Practices Accelerator Program is open for enrollment in schools and healthcare organizations. Enroll your school or healthcare organization here.
If you are a business leader interested in bringing trauma informed care and diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism (DEIA) to your organization reach out to Denise Long by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are ready and able to meet your professional development and implementation needs.