project stats

duration: 16 weeks
my role: I planned and facilitated primary research with subject matter experts, stakeholders, and end users. I visually documented our research and contributed to the conceptual design of the toolkit. I defined and prototyped the card game in low and high fidelities.
teammates: Meghan Clark, Zeyneb Majid
research methods: secondary research (analysis of trends and statistics), interviews, inquiries on Reddit, participatory design workshops

challenge

Support employees who are affected by the impacts of trauma

outcome

A toolkit that guides millennial managers in making their workplaces trauma-informed, including a card game, activities, and informational resources

 

“You need to fix systems, not people.”

Individuals who have experienced trauma are often not adequately supported in their workplaces which burdens and isolates them and is a missed opportunity for employers. While the Americans Disability Act (ADA) provides some protections for individuals with disabilities, many employees who could benefit are not aware of potential accommodations or feel uncomfortable or unable to request support from their employer. Managers themselves, even those with a strong interest in helping their direct reports, are not equipped with knowledge about how to support an employee who has experienced trauma nor how to speak with them about the changes that could make it easier for them to thrive in the workplace.

Tools Towards Trust is a toolkit that puts information and exercises about transitioning their organizations into trauma-informed workplaces in the hands of human resources educators and managers themselves. The key component of the toolkit is a role-playing card game, styled after Cards Against Humanity, in which one person plays the role of an employee seeking an accommodation and the other players act as managers by verbally suggesting potential accommodations from which the employee explains their preference. The game offers a space to work through the awkwardness of these conversations before they happen, expands players’ knowledge of potential impairments and accommodations, and allows for discussion about what qualifies as a reasonable accommodation for a specific impairment within their organization. 

Tools Towards Trust grew out of a sixteen-week exploration which began with our team members’ interests in public health, mental health, womens’ issues, and supporting employees who have experienced trauma. Given the specificity and depth of the problem space of supporting employees with trauma and its overlap with the other themes, this issue quickly drew our collective interest. Over the course of the project we learned from diverse stakeholders, explored the use of different design methods, and led participatory design workshops with real organizations. We moved beyond our initial impulse to directly support employees who have experienced trauma as we learned about employees’ experiences in the workplace, the limitations of the existing accommodations processes, the concept of a trauma-informed workplace, and the challenges facing inexperienced managers to provide this kind of inclusive environment. A participatory design activity reformed as an intervention, our proposed toolkit is the result of this journey.

Initial concept map to identify a design challenge given our interests in public health, mental health, women’s issue, and coping with trauma as an employee.

High-level process flow diagram of the interactive ADA process as practiced by Carnegie Mellon University based on an interview with an Equal Opportunity Services Associate.

High-level process flow diagram of the interactive ADA process as practiced by Carnegie Mellon University based on an interview with an Equal Opportunity Services Associate.

A visual framework that illustrates the differences in policy, practice, and culture between organizations when it comes to supporting and accommodating employees.

A visual framework that illustrates the differences in policy, practice, and culture between organizations when it comes to supporting and accommodating employees.

Employees of local non-profit Small Seeds play an early version of the card game during a participatory design workshop.

Employees of local non-profit Small Seeds play an early version of the card game during a participatory design workshop.

One player is the “employee” who is given a  person  card, a  position  card, and a few  situation  cards to read aloud. The other players—”managers”—then choose from their  response  cards the best and worst option for this employee. After they each read their option aloud, the “employee” choose their preferred response and explains why. (view  instructions  and  cards )

One player is the “employee” who is given a person card, a position card, and a few situation cards to read aloud. The other players—”managers”—then choose from their response cards the best and worst option for this employee. After they each read their option aloud, the “employee” choose their preferred response and explains why. (view instructions and cards)