Many organisations, both large and small, have employees who are at risk of psychological trauma through the work that they do. Those organisations have an obligation to provide a safe workplace and support the wellbeing of their staff if they are exposed to a potentially traumatic experience. Exposure to trauma can lead to lasting mental health effects that impact a person’s ability to carry out their work and other everyday activities. It can be hard for an organisation to know where to begin in reviewing existing procedures or implementing new ones to ensure they are in line with best practice. But Phoenix Australia can help.
Some organisations that have sought our advice are large, state or federal-level organisations that are predominantly staffed by uniformed personnel, such as police or fire. They may have a workforce of many thousands, including their own internal mental health services to help to look after the wellbeing of staff. While others are small, perhaps staffed mainly by volunteers, with little funding or resources for addressing employee mental health or wellbeing.
Phoenix Australia’s expertise in trauma-related mental health means that we are able to provide evidence-based advice on building resilience in the workplace and providing the best support to employees. Our particular approach to providing advice and helping organisations to better support employees at risk of psychological trauma is a very collaborative one.
Understanding what is unique about each organisation
Nicole Sadler, Head of Policy and Practice, says, “Our approach is to try to really get to know and understand the culture of the organisation and its current situation. Every organisation looks different, and we want to understand their particular challenges and priorities and then work out together what solutions will best suit those needs.
The first phase of the process is always to engage with the organisation, gather information, and really understand where they’re at. This may include conducting focus groups and interviews with a range of staff from senior managers, to team leaders and frontline staff. Confidential staff surveys can also be useful to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard, as well as providing a baseline for monitoring the effectiveness of mental health and wellbeing strategies, policies and training. After that, we are in a position to decide together how we can best assist, and what should be prioritised,” says Nicole.
Developing best practice programs
High quality research is at the heart of all Phoenix Australia’s work. The advice we offer is based on the latest science and evidence. We can provide strategies that will promote employee wellbeing, help mitigate the impact of exposure to potentially traumatic events, and offer effective and timely support if an employee develops mental health difficulties following exposure.
Depending on needs and priorities, we are able to develop policies and procedures for best practice management of trauma in the workplace; deliver tailored training to relevant staff members to develop their knowledge and skills to better prepare for and respond to trauma; or provide guidance in implementing a system for responding to a potentially traumatic event. Evaluation is also an important consideration for any organisation that wants to ensure that the initiatives implemented are ultimately meeting their objectives.
Taking a holistic approach
For any organisation whose employees may be exposed to trauma at work, it is vital to have best practice policies and practices in place to promote resilience, protect staff where possible from a mental health injury, and support their mental health and wellbeing. As emphasised by Nicole,
We recommend taking a whole-of-organisation, and whole-of-career approach that recognises the important role that leaders and managers, work colleagues and individuals have in building and maintaining mental health and wellbeing in the workplace”.
Phoenix Australia can help your organisation with:
- setting evidence-based standards from trauma management in the workplace
- translating research into best practice policy and procedures
- developing or reviewing policy and procedure against best practice
- trauma-informed program implementation support
- workforce capability assessment and face-to-face, online or blended training
- development of self-care resources, online tools and mobile applications
- evaluation and quality assurance.
See our website for more information, or contact us on 03 9035 5599.