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Trauma-Informed Public Management: A Step Toward Addressing Hidden Inequalities and Improving Employee Wellbeing

Annie Miller, Maren B. Trochmann & Ida Drury
PAQ, Vol. 46 No. 3, 238-257 (2022)

Public management practices that take a holistic approach are increasingly necessary; trauma-informed care, when embedded within public service, recognizes histories, experiences, and emotions of individuals. Many public servants experience vicarious trauma, by the very nature of their work, and there is a need to recognize this reality and use tools and techniques that are appropriately trauma-informed. Many organizations utilize trauma-informed care principles to engage with clients or citizens in arenas like social work, mental health, or addiction care, yet fewer organizations take a trauma-informed approach with their own employees to provide a safe and supportive workplace. Trauma-informed public management, conceptualized as embedding the six principles of trauma-informed practices into an organizational ethos, represents an opportunity to center the affective needs of public and nonprofit employees and managers who often bring their own traumatic experiences with them to their role and/or experience vicarious trauma in their jobs. The authors use applied examples from public sector responses to the COVID-19 pandemic -- a prolonged and traumatic experience shared by public servants and citizens alike -- to demonstrate these six principles and outline how trauma-informed techniques can be implemented now to benefit the public sector workforce.

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