Building Workplace Resiliency in the Face of Political Trauma
When Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” in his now-famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail, he went on to write, “we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly”. We are reminded through the words of Dr. King, who wrote boldly about intersectionality and interconnected oppression, that we must view our shared struggles through the lens of mutuality in order to include all Americans in the fight for liberation.
As we celebrate Pride Month, a month dedicated to LGBTQIA+ freedom and equity, we are reminded of the members of our community who still remain bound by injustice — young people plagued by school shootings and gun violence; Americans forced to give birth without access to abortion; Black and Brown folks and trans people being violently brutalized by the police; immigrants being detained and surveilled; queer and trans folks living in states with limited political representation — the list is long and dehumanizing. We are sick with grief over the hurt facing our world.
With awareness of such arduous injustice comes exhaustion and overwhelm that impacts our daily lives. It becomes burdensome to show up for work with the weight of grief on our shoulders. Nevertheless, when we must show up, it’s important that our workplace meets us with compassion, empathy, and action.
Below, we’ve compiled some tips for workplace leaders, DEI managers, and HR professionals (and anyone else who could use some pro tips!) to build resiliency in the workplace in the midst of mass tragedy and trauma. Meeting tragedy with resiliency is the best way to ensure compassion for those struggling at work.
We hope these tips are helpful during these hard times 💙
💙 Evaluate the Scope of the Issue + Define a Stance
Before making important decisions on how to build workplace resiliency infrastructure, it’s necessary to evaluate the scope of the issues at hand and who is impacted. Adapting company strategy requires that the company has both an internal and external position, and that these two positions coexist with one another. For example, if your company has taken an external pro-abortion stance, it is important that your company also develops internal infrastructure to support workers seeking abortions. This could be through reimbursing employees who require travel to seek abortion procedures or covering dependents under the company medical plan. Here is a comprehensive list of how companies are supporting workers on abortion.
💙 Tackle Burnout Without Judgement
Political and social turmoil directly leads to emotional and physical burnout. As a result, workers may experience heightened stress and debilitating exhaustion. In these challenging situations, workers can benefit from empathy-driven policies that center self-care and mental health. Some ideas include flexible deadlines, holding meetings only when necessary, building trust amongst workers, and being candid and clear about tasks that should be prioritized to avoid overwhelm. Provide mental health resources to all employees and allow for mental health appointments to be covered by sick time to encourage workers to take necessary time to prioritize their mental health. Remember, not all employees have the luxury or ability to make healthcare appointments outside of work hours due to childcare, second jobs, transportation and other factors.
💙 Develop Clear Communication Guidelines + Expectations
Workplace leadership should develop clear pathways of communication between staffers to communicate goals and expectations in an accessible way. Don’t leave your workers questioning what is important or what should be the main focus during times of hardship. Over-communicating expectations always provides more clarity than leaving expectations up to interpretation, and will help staff to better understand the goals of the organization, and how their role fits into them. Further, open, judgement-free lines of communication between junior staffers and applicable leadership allow for staff to feel that they have vital resources and assistance available to them when necessary.
💙 Lead with Hope
Hope is a valuable currency during times of political unrest. Leadership that embodies hope over fear, and that reminds staff why the work they’re doing is important and goal-oriented, keeps workers focused on how they are contributing towards creating a better world in their own unique capacity. It’s always beneficial to remind workers about their personal value, gifts, insights, and contributions so that they feel appreciated during times of hardship. Remember, hope is not only political — it’s social, too! Point out the positive contributions of your workers to boost morale and encourage staff to feel good about their individual and team work. Being enthusiastic about your team allows for your team to show up more enthusiastically.
Have any more tips? Reply to this email and let us know! We’d love to share them on social media.
Want to Read More? Here Are Some Additional Resources ::
⚡️ Beating Burnout from the Harvard Business Review
⚡️ COVID-19 Guidelines for Building Resilience in the Workplace from the Washington State Department of Health