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Building Workforce Resilience (A Better Normal Series)


As the summer ticks on, the confounding questions around meeting the needs of our workforce in these challenging times remain unresolved for many organizations.  In conversations this week I heard the angst: “It’s time to get back to the office.  We are following all the guidelines.  We have worked to support staff and don’t know what else to do.  How can we help staff come along?”

As organizations adapt to their new normal, the challenge of choosing from a vast array of resources and implementing them is not getting easier.  The struggle may be akin to playing whack-a-mole - as soon as one concern is addressed, four more equally or more critical needs appear. And choosing to push down or ignore a need only intensifies its significance.  So, what can leaders do to support staff across a wide continuum of needs, especially as the uncertainty of COVID-19 persists, and our reckoning with systemic racism demands critically needed change? 

On the June 23rd Better Normal Series, Pam Black and I were privileged to share our work to respond to this question.  The Workforce Resilience Framework outlines a pathway for prioritizing and implementing supports to promote individual and organizational resilience.  It is rooted in our professional work in education and social services over the past 3 decades, and years of experience advancing trauma-informed approaches within behavioral health, education, primary care, child welfare and community services. 

The framework provides a layered and interrelated structure for addressing staff concerns across a spectrum of needs.  It outlines three levels of staff support along with processes and strategies for implementing them.  The entire framework is embedded with the trauma-informed principles of equity, safety, trust, collaboration, mutuality and peer support.   (Attached see tools discussed during the webinar).

Ultimately, the Workforce Resilience Framework seeks to diminish the “they have to come along” response, which could lead to the unfortunate departure of valued, tenured employees.  It requires us to embrace the trauma-informed tenet that everyone is doing the best they can.  It frees us up to wrap supports around those who may need them.  Our workforce is too valuable to do otherwise.  

Thank you for your efforts to support your workforce during this most critical time.  We would be thrilled to share more details of this approach with you and your team. 

Karen Johnson, MSW, LCSW
Trauma-Informed Lens Consulting

Pam Black, MeD
Trauma-Sensitive Education, LLC



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