Trauma-informed policies are created to foster a more inclusive workplace for everyone, particularly those with mental health challenges. Creating an inclusive workplace with trauma-informed care includes implementing policies that incorporate measures to prevent traumatization of all employees and re-traumatization of individuals with PTSD. Along with treatment for PTSD, this allows the employees to better focus and engage in their work.

If your organization has not yet embraced trauma-informed practices, this blog will provide information on how to get started.

What Is Trauma-Informed Care?

Trauma can have a lasting impact on the mental and physical well-being of anyone, regardless of their age or occupation. Even after the traumatic event has passed, some people find it challenging to cope with feelings of despair, anxiety, and hyper-vigilance. These difficulties can lead to issues with concentration, mood regulation, and sleep, making it hard for individuals with PTSD to focus at school or work. Additionally, they may resort to avoidance behaviors or isolate themselves due to fear of stigma or re-experiencing the traumatic event.

Even though anyone could get PTSD, certain occupations and lifestyles place people at a higher risk of developing it.

They include:

  • Working with heavy machinery
  • Working as a first responder
  • Serving in the military
  • Working as a cashier
  • Working in a domestic violence shelter
  • Living in a high-crime area
  • Living with a physical disability

A trauma-informed workplace considers the following when developing its policies and practices. Although the overall goal is to provide a safe space for all employees, a trauma-informed workplace tries hard to avoid re-traumatizing people with PTSD.

Re-traumatization can occur when an employee must constantly retell their story, is labeled an addict, does not have access to mental health services, or experiences profiling of race, lifestyle, or disability.

Key Components of a Trauma-Informed Workplace

To create a trauma-informed workplace, organizational changes reflecting safety, empowerment, collaboration, choice, and trustworthiness are essential. Incorporate the following practices into your policies by:

  • Making employee safety a priority
  • Setting clear expectations and consistent boundaries
  • Embracing the diversity of your staff
  • Allowing employees to make their own choices as much as possible
  • Fostering a culture of collaboration
  • Recognizing the strengths of each employee and building off of them
  • Taking a non-confrontational approach to disciplining employees
  • Using person-first language when possible

Woman with mental health issues coming to TMF's trauma therapy

Benefits of a Trauma-Informed Workplace

Trauma can lead to employee absenteeism, communication challenges, and reduced focus, affecting overall productivity. Implementing a trauma-informed approach can reduce these risks and provide various benefits.

They include but are not limited to:

  • Improved employee engagement and productivity
  • Enhanced communication
  • Lower levels of absenteeism
  • A stronger connection to your team
  • Lower risk of legal issues
  • Improved customer satisfaction
  • Increased brand loyalty
  • More effective sales and higher profitability

How to Spot an Employee With PTSD

PTSD is a disorder that can cause a person to exhibit changes in their behavior and mood. While these symptoms may not always be present, they can unexpectedly manifest at work, leading to uncharacteristic and unprofessional behavior.

Some of the signs you might notice in an employee with PTSD include:

  • Needing to leave work early frequently
  • Becoming irritable or irritated frequently
  • Being startled by unexpected sounds
  • Acting on edge or jumpy when you approach their desk
  • Complaining of heart palpitations or a racing heartbeat
  • Frequently forgetting tasks
  • Missing deadlines
  • Making an increased number of mistakes
  • Falling asleep at work
  • Complaining of frequent headaches or gastrointestinal issues
  • Excluding themselves from their colleagues

Ways to Make Your Workplace More Inclusive for Employees With PTSD

To foster a more inclusive workplace for employees with PTSD, it’s important to promote open conversations about mental health and treatment for mental health conditions. Providing educational pamphlets about trauma and anxiety, along with resources for treatment and additional support, can be very helpful. Additionally, organizing mental health workshops or lectures can further support employees with PTSD.

Another way to make your workplace more inclusive is to provide employee assistance programs that support a good work-life balance. These programs should, at a minimum, include mental health coverage and physical fitness.

The key to establishing a more inclusive workplace involves:

  • Trauma training for management and Human Resources
  • Applying conflict resolution to reduce on-the-job stress
  • Encouraging self-care by providing self-help materials

Remember to regularly assess these changes and adjust them when and where necessary.

Summary: Words to Remember

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition that cannot be cured, but it can be healed. Healing often starts at home, and for many people, this includes their workplace. By adopting a trauma-informed framework, employees can heal faster, leading to increased productivity and a thriving workplace overall.

It’s important to note that it could take up to five years for these changes to be embedded in your company’s culture. However, individual practices can be introduced immediately.

  1. National Institute of Mental Health. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  2. American Psychological Association. Trauma
  3. National Library of Medicine. Building a Trauma-Informed Workforce
  4. ESPYR. A Manager’s Guide to Post Traumatic Stress in the Workplace