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How Trauma Affects the Workplace — and What to Do About It

COVID-19 has disrupted every corner of life for many employees. Stress and trauma from the pandemic have touched their health, finances and careers. Some employees have experienced serious illness themselves or the illness or death of someone close. Long COVID and related economic problems have also been a source of stress.

Trauma and stress as we've recently experienced may be around for a long time. This stress can take a toll on an employee's mental and physical well-being. And what about the effect on workplace performance?

Trauma-Informed Management

Experts define trauma as an emotional injury that affects performance and well-being.1 To help support employees struggling with trauma, employers may need to adopt a specific approach.

A trauma-informed management approach can help employers:2

  • Realize the widespread impact of trauma and understand paths for recovery
  • Recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma in employees
  • Integrate knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures and practices
  • Avoid re-traumatization

Employers who adopt a trauma-informed approach should also commit resources to support it.

Help your clients recognize signs of trauma:3

  • Increased startle responses
  • Extreme emotional reactions, especially anger or fear
  • Either aggression or withdrawal
  • Impaired communication skills
  • Difficulty concentrating and following through on directives

Support for Employees

In a work environment informed by trauma, employees may feel freer to discuss their needs. When they receive proper support and care, they may be more likely to stay at work or, if they go out on leave, return sooner.

How can you help employers develop a trauma-Informed management approach? Connect them with professional program providers. The Standard’s Workplace PossibilitiesSM program, included with our Group Disability insurance, helps businesses support workers who are struggling, including those who are struggling because of trauma, and integrates employer-provided benefits. Employees work directly with a local Workplace Possibilities consultant who can also connect them with services for drug and alcohol abuse, stress management and trauma assistance.

Explore Workplace Possibilities to learn more about our holistic approach to employee well-being.


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