Foster Safe Workplaces with Trauma-Aware Organizational Practices

In a new industry resource, global HR research and advisory firm McLean & Company explains that experiencing trauma can significantly and negatively impact employee health and wellbeing and, in turn, organizational outcomes. The firm's insights outline how organizations can provide safe work environments for impacted employees with intentional planning and commitment from HR and people leaders.


As the employee experience continues to gain traction as a critical organizational priority, HR leaders are considering how to foster safe workplaces for all, both physically and psychologically. According to a new resource from global HR research and advisory firm McLean & Company, enabling safe workplaces requires understanding, destigmatizing, and acknowledging trauma and the impacts it can have on employee performance. As employees look to their employers for a holistic employee experience that addresses all aspects of safety in the workplace, adopting trauma-informed approaches to talent management demonstrates that the organization views its workforce as people first and prioritizes employee wellness and safety. To help HR and people leaders understand the complexities of trauma and implement trauma-informed practices within their organizations, the firm has published its latest guide, Introduction to Trauma-Informed Workplaces for HR.

“Becoming trauma-informed is a proactive approach to promoting health and preventing harm that demonstrates organizational support of wellbeing and safety for all individuals,” says Elysca Fernandes, Director of HR Research & Advisory Services at McLean & Company. “Failing to intentionally be a trauma-informed organization risks the psychological safety and wellbeing of individuals in the organization who have survived trauma, are experiencing trauma, or may encounter trauma in the future.”

McLean & Company advises that exposure to trauma and the level of organizational responsibility varies across industries. For example, the likelihood of experiencing trauma due to the nature of work is more pronounced in victim services industries or in professions that face repeated exposure to traumatic events, such as public safety personnel and humanitarian relief workers.

Public- and service-based industries carry a higher risk of vicarious trauma experienced from exposure to the trauma of individuals they serve, meaning organizations in these industries have a greater responsibility to ensure their workforce and workplaces are trauma-informed to fulfill service mandates.

However, regardless of industry, failing to be trauma-informed can have negative impacts on organizational outcomes, including decreased productivity and increased absenteeism and turnover. Being trauma-informed is an integral part of the effort to create a culture of safety, inclusion, and wellbeing.

To support employees who have experienced trauma and counteract its adverse effects, organizations can implement holistic wellbeing programs, which are a great source of organizational support for employees. In fact, according to data collected to inform McLean & Company’s HR Trends Report 2024, employees who feel their organizations support their wellbeing are 2.5 times more likely to believe the organization has the ability to shape its culture.

The guide is divided into three easy-to-follow sections that will help HR leaders understand trauma and its impact on individuals and organizations, connect trauma-informed practices to the pillars of psychological safety, determine a trauma-informed approach for the organization, and become trauma-informed in everyday interactions.

McLean & Company reminds HR leaders that the guide has been designed to help HR and people leaders to become familiar with and adapt trauma-informed practices, but that being trauma-informed does not involve delivering trauma interventions. Though HR plays a role in supporting access to trauma-specific care services, such as through expanding benefits, trauma-specific care must be delivered by certified mental health professionals.

To access the full resource, including actionable tactics to prevent harm, promote health, and resolve incidents to foster a trauma-informed workplace.

McLean Signature 2024

To register for McLean Signature, the premier industry conference for future-focused HR leaders hosted by McLean & Company from October 27 to 29 at the Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa in Las Vegas, Nevada, please visit the official Signature event page.

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