Starting today we are offering a seven-part series on how workplace relationships, when done right, can support staff, lower workplace stress and decrease turn over.
Our on Line course, Making It Real!, goes into these subject in more depth and offers many tools for your team. Does your team struggle with collaboration, get discouraged, divide into segments, blame each other, and polarize in decision making? Do you have difficulty finding time for training and refreshers to keep the trauma-informed approach alive?
Making It Real! is For You! It is the only on-line course designed for child serving congregate care teams to take together, and make sure that every moment of their program is as effective as possible.
We hope to see you there!
In the meantime, here is the first blog post:
Do Staff Relationships Matter?
Are staff relationships essential to the work we do, or are they an extra, a frill, nice if we have them but not important?
I would assert that good relationships between staff are essential to providing trauma-informed care.
Trauma-informed care is based on the assumption that clients heal through strong relationships with treaters. These relationships have two sides- the client’s side and the treater’s side. We can’t treat clients any better than we treat each other. We can’t give clients what we do not have. If a staff member is feeling alone, unconnected, unsupported, blamed, or overworked how could he or she possible offer open hearted connections to the clients? Instead they will close and harden their hearts, try to protect themselves, and look to enforce rules and control clients. If a staff member feels supported by a team, connected to co-workers, appreciated and skillful, that is when he or she will be able to offer warmth, flexibility and compassion to clients.
Gallup research has repeatedly shown that the top three areas that influence worker job satisfaction are:
1. Relationship with supervisor and availability of social support
2. Feeling valued, appreciated and that you can make a difference; sense of purpose
3. Control and flexibility within the job
Our happiness in our jobs largely influenced by our social surroundings. Improved employee relationships contribute to reduced turnover, which means there is a substantial financial savings to be gained from improving relationships. And even more importantly, Gallup research definitively links engaged workers with better outcomes.
In case that were not enough evidence of the importance of employee relationships, there is the fact that our clients notice everything we do. Early unsafe settings and the importance of predicting events in their environments have taught our clients to be hyper alert to all interpersonal nuances. We talk to them about good relationships, but they learn much more from observing our actual relationships. Are we respectful to each other? How do we handle disagreements? How do gender, race and other roles play out? How do we manage physical contact? Do we have fun? All of this models for our clients the possibilities within relationships.
What about in out patient, community or home based settings, where the team does not all interact with the same clients? Do our staff relationships matter then?
Yes, because they contribute to the well being of the treater,
and combat isolation. They can bring diverse providers int the same approach and avoid splitting and blaming.
Finally, the work we do is hard. We experience vicarious traumatization, moral dilemmas, difficult working conditions, and system failure. Recent research is showing that while self care is very important it is not our strongest protection against work place stress. It is connection and empowerment that protects us.
So, promoting workplace relationships is not a luxury item taht we will do if we have money and time left after everything else (a likely story). It is the very backbone of our work, the source of the strength we need for healing.
In the next series of blogposts we will dive into various aspects of how we can best support each other through effective teams, good supervision, social support, responding when relationships become difficult, and combating workplace stress.
Please join us. In the mean time, write your thoughts in the comments. Do you have any good strategies to promote healthy workplace relationships?
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