Resource Library

How to provide emotional supports for your workforce

Health care organizations must commit to providing targeted baseline emotional support for each of the three types of emotionally charged scenario that a health care employee is likely to encounter in their career: trauma and grief, moral distress, and compassion fatigue. Use our resource library in tandem with our take on baseline emotional support to understand what models of emotional support are available to your organization for each type of emotionally charged scenario.

Section 1: Trauma, grief, PTSD

Resources to extend support across the long term following traumatic events

In the moment resources to help staff emotionally recover following potentially traumatic events:

This type of emotional support must be timely and focus on staff well-being. Thus, clinical debriefing does not count here. If your organization does not have this type of support readily available to staff, we recommend training an internal team in psychological first aid.

Tactics to help leaders identify staff in need of extra emotional support:

Remember, PTSD symptoms can occur years after a traumatic event, so it’s vital that leaders can recognize symptoms of emotional distress, and feel equipped to talk to their staff about it. This isn’t easy for leaders to do, so we recommend putting structures in place to help them. Below are several examples to help you get started.

Promote longer term emotional supports to address grief and trauma:

Many organizations already have resources that can provide longer term support to staff. However, these resources are often decentralized and staff do not know about them or how to access them. The single best thing to do is compile a list of all emotional resources available to staff and publicize it in multiple ways, including: providing it to all frontline leaders, posting it on a single intranet page, and sending the list via email following major emotional events.

Section 2: Moral distress

While moral distress is a difficult challenge, the solution is relatively straightforward: give staff a safe space to discuss their experiences of moral distress. There are many ways to do this, so don’t let perfect be the enemy of good here. It’s less important how you do it, and more important to just do it. To get started we offer the resources below:

Resources to provide confidential staff forums to discuss moral distress

Staff forums to discuss moral distress

Other resources to help you get started with moral distress forums

Section 3: Everyday emotional stressors

There are many types of emotional support resources that organizations can offer to address routine stress. Some will work well for all staff, while others are more targeted to specific groups, such as physicians and nurses. Routine emotional stressors ultimately affect all employees, not just those in patient-facing roles, so it’s important to provide resources that reflect the role diversity of your entire workforce. And given that one-size does not fit all when it comes to emotional support, more is better here. In fact, we recommend implementing at least one support from each group below:

Resources to embed routine emotional support into employee workflow

Resources to take the pulse of your workforce’s emotional state

Resources to provide everyday emotional support

Next steps:

The power of reconnecting to purpose

Staff need to be reminded of the good in their work and why they chose healthcare as a profession – both during good times and tough times. To do that, we recommend augmenting your emotional support strategy with at least one reconnection practice.

There are a number of ways to help staff reconnect to purpose, many which center around storytelling.

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