While many organizations have embraced using trauma-informed practices, it may be challenging to start implementing trauma-informed workplace policies. Using trauma-informed Human Resources practices provides a concrete opportunity to embed trust, transparency, safety, and collaboration into everyday organizational practices.
Every stage of employment, from hiring new employees to offboarding employees who are leaving the organization, can be conducted using trauma-informed principles. In the pre-employment stage, organizations can clearly communicate their desired qualifications for new employees within the employment advertisements, in addition to accurately describing the responsibilities and expectations of the employment opportunity. Additionally, applicants not selected for the position can be told of their status in a timely and sensitive way (e.g., an email thanking the applicant for their time, providing feedback to the applicant regarding why they were not selected if desired).
When onboarding a new employee, orientation materials and meetings can communicate the values of the organization, emphasizing trust, safety, and collaboration among employees. During this orientation period, employees should be notified how and when their performance will be evaluated during their employment. During ongoing employment, using a trauma-informed approach to conducting performance reviews can help alleviate stress for both the employee and their supervisor. Prior to the performance evaluation, employees and their supervisors create performance-based goals that will guide the supervisor when giving focused feedback on the employee’s progress during the evaluation period. Additionally, supervisors can use language in their performance evaluation that is affirming and emphasizes strengths and areas of growth over deficits. In addition to formally scheduled performance evaluations, supervisors can continuously provide strengths-based feedback to employees to promote transparency and collaboration.
When an employee decides to leave an organization, organizations can create procedures for announcing the employee’s departure and for training their successor. These trauma-informed policies are focused on supporting the employee who is leaving, as well as the remaining employees. Finally, employers gain valuable insight when employees are given an opportunity to have an exit interview in which they feel sufficiently safe to share their experience of working in the agency and their reasons for leaving. This
checklist from the National Council for Behavioral Health provides clear guidelines for supporting employees throughout these four stages of employment
If you are interested in creating your own trauma-informed workplace policies, the National Council for Behavioral Health has also created a number of trauma-informed Human Resources
templates, including hiring, conflict resolution, and performance management. Finally, if you are interested in specifically evaluating your organization’s use of trauma-informed practices, Trauma Informed Oregon has also put together Human Resources
guidelines for supporting trauma-informed care.