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WATCH: Private Sector Engagement

MODERATOR:

  • Laura Braden, CTIPP's Director of Communications

INTERVIEW:

  • Lauren Butler, Managing Director of Employee Engagement at Ketchum

Watch more discussions and access a resource toolkit: bit.ly/transform-trauma-2023


ROUGH TRANSCRIPT:

00:00:00 Hello everyone. My name is Lara Braden. I am the Director of Communications for the Campaign for Trauma Informed Policy and Practice, and we are here today with Lauren Butler, who is the Managing Director of Employee Engagement at Ketchum, which is a global communications consultancy. And I'm so excited to have you here. Lauren, thanks for joining us.

00:00:20 Thank you. It's great to be here.

00:00:22 Yeah. Let's dive right in. So you all have a trauma-informed consultancy. So I mean I think you're the first, if not the only global communications firm that's doing this. So tell us about the Genesis story. How and why did y'all engage in that effort.

00:00:41 Great question. So it's no secret that over the past few years, since the pandemic, there has been a significant rise in societal issues, whether that be public health, social justice, environmental, economic, gun violence, and now war in the Ukraine and in Israel. It feels a little bit nonstop. And I've used the term perma crisis that we just feel like we're it feels like we're in constant crisis, crisis mode. And so companies and organizations need to be prepared for so many potential issues. And they're seeking that quick barometer to guide them on when and how to weigh in. And then. Also worldwide. We've started to see we are seeing skyrocketing rates of mental health challenges and issues as we've all heard in the US, rates of anxiety and depression are an epidemic. And so, you know, between just the state of our society and the mental health challenges and issues that we've been dealing with, it's unprecedented and sets the stage for this thinking that we started thinking about, you know, where and how to comment and when to speak out. And that needs to start with the mental health implications of what you say and how you approach different scenarios. So as Ketchum started to navigate this landscape, we knew that the North Star is your people. And one of the greatest transformations coming out of these reasons has been recent events that the huge impacts on our workforce, and we've seen it over the few years, over the last few years around quiet, quitting, loud quitting everything, burnout, talent wars, short staffing, and it's it became very relevant and very obvious that companies need to lead with their role as an employer brand, and it needs to be people first. So. Our trauma-informed offering was born out of this idea. In that a trauma-informed organization operates with an understanding of trauma and on its negative effects on a company's own employees, their clients, their customers and the communities that they serve. And so we built and launched this offering a year ago in October 2022. It's been a team of multidisciplinary experts with expertise in social work, psychology, change management, as well as legal experts and a team member who has worked with victims with the Department of Justice and some of the most high-stakes, emotionally charged cases. And the offering is really to help organizations make the commitment to become trauma-informed organizations and to train their employees to become trauma-informed. And we have made the commitment as Ketchum and, and have trained our senior leaders on being trauma-informed and have rolled are rolling that out to our workforce as well.

00:04:22 That's fantastic. And so, I mean, you guys are a very large organization, right? So for other organizations and companies of similar size that are looking at this and kind of curious about it. What were some of the more surprising points in the process? Right. Either challenges you had to overcome or things that just went really well that you might have been surprised by, right?

00:04:45 Yeah. You know, it was it was really well received by C-suite leaders and so much so that it actually sometimes turned into counseling sessions, which we weren't quite expecting. People started thinking about their time in 911, like, you know what, where they were in 911, for example, and how you know, how traumatized they felt and what that meant for them in their, you know, life sense. And they shared how they felt traumatized during situations like that over the last few years, but they didn't really realize that was necessarily trauma that they were feeling. And so we put a name to that for them. And we've helped create awareness for how important it is to be trauma-informed and how these events, how these traumatic events shape us as we put together campaigns for our clients.

00:05:48 That’s so important. I mean, think it's really well-known how much journalists can suffer vicarious trauma covering these heavy topics. Right. But think less is known about the communicators, the PR folks, the public affairs folks, the even the marketers, right, who have to still consume this content every day, usually under tough deadlines. Right? Competing projects, you know, lots, lots going on. That's fantastic. What has been, you know, what would have been like the biggest lessons learned from a staff perspective? What have they reported back to you that they've really appreciated and what's been helping.

00:06:24 When we need to meet companies where they are and the employees where they are, we know that Gen Z and millennials, in particular, want to work for a company that's transparent and sensitive and takes a stand on issues. And so we've worked to meet companies where they are on, on their own journeys. And in Taylor Taylor, this training, this trauma-informed training to their own workforce. In some cases, we have learned that we need to shift our language and the way we talk about trauma-informed to fit the workforce and their needs. So for an example, in some cases we've called this instead of trauma-informed. It's more of incivility training. And when you think about, you know, being on the front line, like at a retail, a fast food company or a retail organization, like, you know, the idea of civility training became a little more resonated a little more with, with that audience in others. We've called it empathetic leadership training and in helping leadership all different parts of the employee population, managers at that manager level, that mid-manager level, that's so important. Empathy is no longer a soft skill. It's really a hard skill that has to and it can be learned. You know, some people are talented already and their empathy skills. But it is a it is a skill that can be learned and it is a hard skill. And so this idea of empathetic leadership has come into play a lot more through this training. And in other cases, we've called this human-centered communications and really thinking about the human aspect of what we're bringing to work, what our employees are bringing to work every day, both personally and professionally, and how to best meet their needs.

00:08:20 Yeah, I'd also imagine in some private sector circles. These concepts are a bit radical, right? It's a new way of framing about it. And it's less churn and burn culture and more, like you said, people-centered, right? Taking care of your folks and letting that impact ripple out. You know, as you sit down with your clients and with potential businesses that you're trying to sell the drumming for movement to. Right. What's what's been the most helpful and the most impactful in your messaging and approach?

00:08:49 We've helped people realize that their job descriptions in this, in this society that we're living in have changed. As you know, society has changed. And the organization's expectations from employees and customers and stakeholders have shifted to broaden our thinking and the network of people and teams that we consult in those high-stakes moments as well. In order to make sure we're addressing the needs of the workforce. So I think people have looked at their jobs a little more broadly as a result of this training, you know, with a deeper level of understanding for what individual employees are going through and have deepened under their own understanding, especially at that mid-manager level, of why it's so important to be empathetic and to be trauma-informed and think it's a skill that not only pertains to the workforce, but in your personal life as well.

00:09:54 Absolutely. If there's one piece of advice you give a c suite for a leader, whether they're considering doing this for their own organization or company, or whether they need to create systems for their clients, their customers, that sort of thing. What would be your one piece of advice for someone wanting to embark on this? Just like Ketchum.

00:10:13 I would say that the North Star is your people and that every scenario needs to be approached with this trauma-informed lens so that when an issue hits you can focus on commitments you made to your workforce and how that syncs up with your vision and your values as an organization. And in order to do that, you really have to first assess how your people are impacted or would be impacted in different scenarios, and particularly your most vulnerable, who may be disproportionately impacted by a certain event or issue.

00:10:50 Great. Well, thank you so much for your time. Appreciated this.

00:10:53 Thank you for having me.


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