When we refer to childhood trauma we immediately think of what goes on in schools, families, clinics and communities where children are present. Typically, there is a great deal of empathy for their struggles and in many cases their behavior, if there’s an awareness and their trauma is reframed through a trauma lens. Often, they are given a bit of grace and time to understand their issues and get the help they need to overcome their life adversities.
But what about adults who have been impacted by trauma or other serious calamities in their past? I have written often about the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) research that shows that the impact of childhood trauma extends into adulthood. There is significant evidence that addictions, mental health issues, crime, depression, anxiety, relational problems, anger and other difficult life issues are a direct result of childhood trauma.
Just as we struggle with assessing our children and what is behind their behavior there is also the very same struggle that permeates our adult population. In our attempt to create highly productive places of employment, many of our workplace leaders do not understand the impact of childhood trauma on their employees. Therefore, when they see chronic problems in performance, relationships or even some deeper issues there is often an attempt to label, control and force change to comply with workplace standards. Others may try to ignore the problem for fear of lawsuits. Obviously in their defense there is a need for employees to be productive and efficient in their daily work. Yet when we work towards changing workplace behavior employers need to understand that one of the reasons employees may not be working as expected could be childhood trauma that has extended its impact into their adulthood.
I have spoken with many company and corporate leaders who really are looking for answers for this type of issue. It is an incredible challenge to create a productive and effective work environment. However, it is more challenging when there are employees who have had adverse experiences that have lasting and damaging neurological impact. We now know that if they do not have the tools to cope and regulate there will be dire consequences to their capacity to reach their work goals.
Here is a link to an article that surfaces this type of issue in the workplace:
As we become more aware and clear about how to reframe and interpret possible trauma-related behavior in the workplace, we can provide more support to our employees, strategic training for our supervisors and leaders and attain better results for helping employees to overcome struggles. Hopefully this awareness can avoid employees from being nonproductive and even destructive in their behaviors. Understanding how to help someone overcome these obstacles can lead to a safer, empowering and strategic work environment that will maximize their ability to reach their goals and grow in their career capacity. What a great outcome that feels like a win-win!