I was honored to be a guest on two panels last year to address trauma in the workplace. The workplaces could not have been more different, schools and the varied space of the desk and the field of journalists. It also served as a reminder that this is an increasing area of concern for many organizations. If the people who make up the environment are not doing well, the overall wellness of the organization suffers. An emphasis on the wellness within the organization does not chip away at personal accountability. Instead, it offers encouragement for individuals to make their mental health and wellness a priority at work. I invite organizations to create a Culture of Care to assist with minimizing and alleviating symptoms of vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue and burnout. A Culture of Care is an environment where mental and emotional health are recognized in such a way to lessen the stigma.
3 Steps to Create a Culture of Care
1. Promote Self-Awareness
Many performance evaluations include a section on interpersonal skills but this may not be addressed until it is review time. Adding in feedback and discussions about emotional intelligence throughout the year during supervisions and meetings can assist with promoting self-awareness.
2. Contain Emotional Contagion
Emotional Contagion is where emotions of a few “infect” others.
• Morale boosters & busters
Check in with teams to assess the temperature of the morale. Anonymous surveys, supervisor check-ins and suggestion boxes can assist with gathering information. One example of a survey is to have people list 3 morale boosters (things that they feel contribute to good morale) and 3 morale busters (things that contribute to bad morale)
• Create healing spaces
Open discussions about self-care in team meetings and one on ones is one way to create a healing space. Another way is to utilize the working space. The use of plants, art and light can assist with providing calming spaces within the office. Having spaces designated for breaks or even a bench or seats outside can assist with encouraging staff to take moments to self-regulate.
• Low Impact Debriefing (LID)
Francoise Matheiu called the process of sharing details of trauma sessions sliming. In order to reduce the chances of sliming one another, she suggested utilizing Low Impact Debriefing (LID). LID consists of 4 stages:
1. Increased Self Awareness
2. Fair Warning
4. Low Impact Disclosure
3. Encourage the Use of Outside Supports
• Provide EAP plans for mental health that provide 3 or more free sessions
• Have a list of mental health providers and wellness opportunities available for staff
There is no one way to address wellness in organizations. I invite you to seek out multiple solutions to be able to