Updated: Jul 18
Safety plans serve as a great resource for individuals to practice healthy coping skills and develop a sense of safety and security that can carry them through a crisis. Last week, we discussed the basics of creating your first personalized safety plan.
Now, it’s time to discuss how an organizational safety plan can support your trauma-informed agency—and how to build one.
If you work with an organization, sharing how to create an individual safety plan with your team members is a great mental health resource. However, your ability to use safety plans as a resource for your trauma-informed agency doesn’t end there.
You can also develop and share a customized organization-wide safety plan. This resource will:
provide transparency about how incidents are handled
share information about who to contact when an event occurs
establish a greater sense of safety in the workplace
manage organizational stress, including symptoms of burnout, PTSD, depression, and anxiety
teach members how to navigate emotionally fueled conflict
build workplace resilience and healthy coping skills
Remember, a safety plan is intended to establish a sense of safety in six distinct areas, including:
The Building Blocks of Your Organizational Safety Plan
1 - Identify Warning Signs & Triggers
First, you need to examine what situations, behaviors, or incidents serve as triggers or warning signs in your community. Think of this as a list of anything that has occurred or could occur at your organization to make it an unsafe place for anyone.
Examples: Conflict, aggression, harsh judgment, bullying, violence, discrimination such as racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, etc.
2 - Provide Coping Skills & Resources
In an individual safety plan, coping skills might include going for a run or doing a guided meditation. At an organization-wide level, coping skills can refer to specific policies and procedures in place for each incident.
This section of the safety plan may point to specific resources for resolving an issue one-on-one between the people involved.
Examples: Conflict resolution, nonviolent communication, peer mediation, emotional intelligence, etc.
3 - De-escalation
If an incident is more severe, using coping strategies that involve having a conversation with coworkers may not be the best decision. In this instance, de-escalation or distraction could work better.
This could mean adding certain freedoms to the workplace or providing additional spaces to relax and unwind.
Examples: Sitting in the breakroom alone, going for a walk, visiting the organization’s emotional support animal or on-site counselor, sitting in a calming garden, etc.
4 - Receive Peer Support
While it’s essential to empower your team members to self-regulate through healthy coping skills they can practice at work, it can also be healing to discuss situations and emotions with peers and coworkers.
Enabling your workers to seek, receive, and provide peer support could involve training sessions, providing additional resources on this topic, and practicing emotional intelligence skills.
Examples: Providing a dedicated space to seek and receive support, encouraging employees to seek peer support, hosting training sessions, modeling behavior, etc.
5 - Talk to Management
Employees must know that their concerns are taken seriously by those in charge, especially when a serious incident in the workplace occurs, whether that is sexual assault, microaggressions, or discrimination.
In your organizational safety plan, provide contact information for who to contact regarding specific incidents, along with the best way to reach them
Examples: Department heads’ or community leaders’ names, phone numbers, emails, etc.
6 - Apply Preventative Measures
Up until this point, many of the organizational safety plan measures discussed are reactive—these resources are best after conflict arises. The final step of your safety plan is proactive and ongoing.
Implementing an organizational safety plan is about more than just providing resources when things go south and a document you can post around the office. A key component of your safety plan involves creating an environment that supports safety.
Examples: Trauma-informed coaching, ongoing safety training, proof of appropriate action when incidents occur, identifying and removing any unsafe practices or elements of company culture
How to Implement an Organizational Safety Plan
Like a personalized safety plan, an organizational safety plan is a living document. If things aren’t working, it doesn’t mean the safety plan is broken—it just means you need different tools in your toolkit.
Whether that means creating a new position to assist with conflict, managing employer expectations, or providing additional training depends on what’s best for your organization and its unique needs.
Are you ready to implement an organizational safety plan to ensure that every member of your team across every level feels safe, seen, valued, and respected?
Empower your team by developing an organizational safety plan today. For more information on how a trauma-informed approach can improve the well-being of your organization, view our free Guide to Trauma-Informed Implementation, where we discuss safety plans and so much more.
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