Supporting Trauma Victims in the Workplace: A Guide for Employers

By Elona Washington, Owner, Fractional CMO & C7 Marketing Boutique

Trauma has a profound impact on individuals, affecting their emotional well-being, physical health, and overall functioning. According to the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, 60% of Americans  have experienced some type of traumatic event at least once in their lives.

As an employer, it is essential to recognize that some of your employees may be trauma victims, including survivors of human trafficking. By creating a supportive and understanding workplace environment, you can play a pivotal role in helping these individuals thrive in the workplace.

In this article, we will explore strategies for supporting employees who are trauma victims, fostering a culture of compassion and resilience within your organization.

Cultivate Trauma Awareness and Sensitivity

  1. Creating a trauma-informed workplace begins with cultivating awareness and sensitivity among all employees. The trauma-informed approach of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Educate (SAMHSA) is widely accepted and known as the four R’s: Realization about trauma and how it can affect people and groups, recognizing the signs of trauma, having a system which can respond to trauma, and resisting re-traumatization.

Educating your workforce about the impact of trauma, including its symptoms and potential triggers, fosters an environment that encourages open dialogue, empathy, and non-judgmental attitudes. This culture of understanding can help eliminate stigma and create a safe space for trauma victims to come forward and seek support.

Recognize Signs of Trauma

  1. It is crucial for employers and managers to be able to recognize signs of trauma in their employees. While every individual responds to trauma differently, common indicators may include changes in behavior, such as increased irritability, withdrawal, or difficulty concentrating. Other signs may include frequent absences, decreased productivity, or irritability, or angry outbursts. Be vigilant and observant, but remember to respect employee privacy and confidentiality.

Create a Supportive Work Environment

  1. Building a supportive work environment is vital for trauma victims to feel safe and comfortable. Encourage open communication by establishing channels for employees to express their concerns or seek assistance confidentially. Foster a culture of trust, where employees feel comfortable disclosing their trauma experiences, if they choose to do so. Ensure that policies and procedures are in place to address harassment, discrimination, and any potential triggers that may retraumatize individuals.

Provide Trauma-Informed Training:

  1. Consider providing trauma-informed training to all employees to equip them with the knowledge and skills needed to support their colleagues effectively. This training can include education on trauma, its impact, and appropriate ways to respond and support survivors. Train managers and supervisors specifically on trauma sensitivity, trauma triggers, and how to accommodate and support employees who may be trauma victims. This knowledge will help create an inclusive and understanding work environment.

Offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and Resources:

  1. Ensure that your organization offers access to Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) or external resources that provide trauma-specific support. These programs can offer confidential counseling services, referrals to trauma-informed therapists, and other resources that can assist employees in their healing journey. Communicate these resources clearly and regularly, emphasizing the confidentiality and support they provide.

Flexibility and Reasonable Accommodations:

  1. Recognize that trauma can impact an individual’s ability to perform certain tasks or cope with specific situations. Whenever possible, offer flexibility and reasonable accommodations to employees who are trauma victims. This can include adjusting work schedules, providing additional breaks, modifying job responsibilities temporarily, or creating a supportive workspace tailored to their needs. This flexibility can help reduce stress and enhance the employee’s ability to manage their trauma-related challenges.


Supporting employees who are trauma victims requires empathy, understanding, and a commitment to fostering a trauma-informed work environment. By creating a culture of awareness, sensitivity, and support, employers can play a vital role in facilitating the overall well-being of their employees. By providing resources, training, and accommodations, you can empower trauma survivors to thrive both personally and professionally, fostering a compassionate and resilient workplace where everyone feels valued and supported.


HR Brain for Hire Agency

Delmar Johnson, Principal People Operations Consultant

hrbrainforhire .com

Melissa Robinson-Brown “Dr. Mel”

Renewed Focus Psychology Services

Jettie Z., LPC

Latisha B. Russell, LLC

Friends in Transition Counseling Services

Ajita Robinson