Handbook launches to help employers support early talent to flourish

Jul 26, 2023 | Development, Home Featured, News

ISE has supported an employer’s handbook to trauma-informed practice. The University of East London explains how this is supporting early talent to flourish.

The world of work has changed dramatically in recent years. The introduction of new ways of working, such as remote work and flexible hours, has blurred the boundaries between home and office.

It is inevitable that what is and has transpired over the past years including Covid, economic uncertainties, war, racial injustices can have a traumatic effect for many in the workforce.

For early talent from diverse populations, who may be dealing with existing traumas, transitioning into these new unfamiliar ways of working can feel like an uphill battle. For employers this adds to some of the existing challenges in supporting early talent, such as lack of experience and confidence.

For those who have adopted various strategies to enhance diversity they will know that integrating multiple voices into organisations is rewarding, if sometimes challenging. It takes more effort to connect with people with whom we don’t identify and who behave in ways that we sometimes don’t understand.

The University of East London developed the Supporting Early Talent to Flourish handbook to help existing and new employers going through DEI programmes build positive relationships through trauma-informed practices to truly bring out the best in early talent. The handbook is informed by the work of Dr Emma Davies who did a study on ‘The impact of adverse childhood experiences and recent life events on anxiety and quality of life in university students’. This brought to light that an overwhelming majority of the survey population (858 first year students at UEL) had suffered from at least one ‘adverse childhood experience’.

The handbook

Every employee needs to feel safe, connected, and in control in their workplace to some extent. For those who are more marginalised in society, this can be harder, and they are more likely to disengage or leave.

This risk can be reduced if organisations understand more about how various people experience their workplaces and are open to different ways of doing things.

We need to dig deeper into understanding disadvantage if we are to enable more early talent to flourish. In doing so, we can create healthier workplaces for the benefit of all.

Launched at the University of East London’s Diversity of Thought Summit in May 2023, the Supporting Early Talent to Flourish handbook aims to support employers’ reflections on how to embed and retain a more diverse range of early talent by examining two themes:

· How adverse experiences can impact relationships, approaches to solving problems and seeking help

· The trauma-informed principles that can be used to construct an enabling workplace culture.

Through defining and understanding trauma, the handbook guides employers through the five key elements of building and maintaining relationships via a trauma-informed approach which includes:

· Safety: to be understood and feel safe emotionally and physically

· Trust: to build trusting relationships, find reliability and consistent support

· Choice and control: to have some control and choices in the workplace

· Collaboration: to build positive relationships with colleagues and mentor

· Empowerment: to have spaces to individually and collectively develop their own voice, needs and interests in the workplace

The principles of this trauma-informed approach have been tested through the University of East London’s ‘Diversity of Thought’ social mobility programme, which provides insight to employers about alternative approaches to recruitment.

Michael Ludlow, talent acquisition director at WPP One is one of the employer participants in the programme. He said, “Many companies have the desire to change, but it’s taking a long time. The Diversity of Thought programme has been an advocate for making changes in the world of EDI. I’m proud to say that WPP and I are as passionate about making changes – they take time, but they are happening. The standard we’ve hired from the programme has been exceptional.”

Why develop a trauma-Informed organisation?

UEL is one of the most socially inclusive and international universities. Our graduates are amongst the most diverse to be found on any UK campus – including but going well beyond the usual indicators of ‘difference’ that people look for in the workforce.

First year undergraduates at UEL were invited to complete an ‘adverse childhood experience’ survey, a way to measure early childhood trauma, and an overwhelming majority suffered from some form of trauma.

The majority (79%) reported at least one adverse event, 51% reported at least three, and 20% at least six. This is significantly higher than the general population but not uncommon. More information is accessible in the journal article found in the handbook.

Labour market trends indicate that organisations who are good at attracting and sustaining a diverse and talented workforce are likely to be the most successful. In the UK, enhancing diversity is important because employees need to reflect potential customers if UK businesses are to thrive in the interconnected world.

Early talent can be empowered by giving them spaces to develop their own voice, needs, and interests, both individually and collectively. This can help them to make changes in their own lives and to reach their full potential.

This resource is designed to help organisations find their own style of empowering early talent. They can dip into bits of the handbook or engage with it from cover to cover to find something that resonates with them and helps you to make a difference in the lives of early talent.

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