– trau·maˈtroumə,ˈtrômə/ –
- a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.”a personal trauma like the death of a child”
- MEDICINEphysical injury.
We know the definition above. We can all name survivors of violence and crime that have experienced trauma, but how often do we associate trauma within the workplace? A traumatic experience can occur anywhere- workplaces are no exception. Natural disasters, death, a serious accident, or a history of physical, sexual, domestic, and emotional abuse are types of trauma that can transcend into the workplace. Internal workplace trauma can include layoffs, realignments, and intentional cruelty.
We also know that agencies and organization that provides services to victims of crime and traumatized individuals, families and/or groups are vulnerable to becoming a system of trauma experiencing the cumulative effects of the work itself. Additionally, workers may feel 2nd hand trauma, often called vicarious trauma, through listening and helping their clients process their traumatic experiences.
When trauma manifests in the workplace it compromises employee’s effectiveness, creativity and productivity. Workers are less focused, their ability to learn is inhibited, and even thinking and managing the necessary change to heal can be debilitated. The best response to mitigating trauma in the workplace is preparedness. Here are some suggestions:
- Create a safe area in the workplace where employees can go if they’re feeling stressed
- Increase social support advocacy through group activities• Foster safe discussion sessions with staff about current stressers and healthy coping mechanisms
- Provide access to Human Resource professionals who can help foster healthy management skills
- Incorporate mindful “downtime” when appropriate
Unexpected events, external threats, physical and/or organizational stressors are going to occur in our workplace communities, and like any other community in which we belong, our ability to unite, cope, and heal together makes us stronger.