A Trauma-Informed Business Model: Our Journey One Year Later
Updated: Feb 9
Andres Celin & Anjali Chainani
We must begin developing concrete tools and practices that can allow us to acknowledge the impact that emotional trauma has on team members, clients, and community stakeholders.
As we approach the end of our third year in a global pandemic, communities and organizations across the US have begun to see the impacts of our collective trauma more clearly. Roughly 40% of adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression in the past year – up from 11% before pandemic.  The impact within organizations has been widespread: The rate of employees voluntarily leaving their organizations is currently 25% higher than pre-pandemic levels , while 89% of workers who left their job in 2021 or were planning to leave soon said they felt burnt out and unsupported. 
As former practitioners now working as consultants for Anavi Strategies, we believe that in order to fully meet the current moment, mission-driven organizations need to move beyond simply training their staff in trauma-informed care; we must begin developing concrete tools and practices that can allow us to: a) acknowledge the impact that emotional trauma has on team members, clients, and community stakeholders; and (b) concretely support trauma-impacted individuals in regulating themselves emotionally while moving through challenging or stressful situations.
We also know that no single organization can figure this out alone. We can only build trauma-informed organizational ecosystems if we can learn from one another and build on each other’s lessons through a process of praxis, where we try a particular tool, we evaluate its impact, and we refine it by doing this over and over again.
Anavi Strategies is committed to building a trauma-informed business model that guides every aspect of how we serve our clients, and internally operate as a team. Since we published our first blog post outlining Anavi’s approach a year ago, we have focused on five key areas of organizational change to move us in this direction:
Finding Outside Expertise: Most organizations cannot count on in-house expertise in developing trauma-informed models, so it is critical to find ways to acquire the skills and knowledge required to start this process. At Anavi Strategies, we chose to hire a Certified Trauma-informed Trainer and Practitioner to both work as a consultant with our clients, and to help lead our process of developing a trauma-informed business model. This allows us to simultaneously test out and document trauma-informed practices internally between team members, and directly with clients.
Refining Mission, Vision, and Principles: For trauma-informed practices to become part of an organization’s culture, it is important to place them at the center of the organization’s identity. To this end, we spent two months brainstorming, discussing, debating, drafting, and deciding on an updated mission and vision. We developed a set of principles and trauma-informed practices that serve as the backbone to everything we do.
Beginning to document key practices within the organization allows us to better understand how and why we operate the way we do, and where there are opportunities to embed trauma-informed practices across the organization.
Documenting Key Processes: There are often countless practices within an organization’s culture that are based on leaders’ personalities or orientations, or practices fail to be formally codified anywhere within the organization. Beginning to document key practices within the organization allows us to better understand how and why we operate the way we do, and where there are opportunities to embed trauma-informed practices across the organization. At Anavi Strategies, we are engaged in a process of both identifying what we already do well and developing new practices we can incorporate when taking key actions such as structuring kick-off meetings with new clients, assessing new business opportunities, or providing feedback to other team members.
At Anavi Strategies, we chose to hire a Certified Trauma-informed Trainer and Practitioner to both work as a consultant with our clients, and to help lead our process of developing a trauma-informed business model.
Developing Trauma-Informed Standard Operating Procedures: Developing organizational principles, a clear mission and vision, and a detailed understanding of how we take on important tasks allows us to then create standard operating procedures that can guide each team member’s work with trauma-informed practices. Over the past six months, we have developed a set of trauma-informed principles and practices to guide our work, and our goal in 2023 is to finalize a set of trauma-informed standard operating procedures for Anavi Strategies as a whole.
Connect with Outside Practitioners: Feedback from external partners who are also experimenting with developing trauma-informed practices is invaluable in the process of refining what works and what doesn’t within each organization. At Anavi Strategies, part of documenting our process includes seeking out peers across the country to exchange lessons and explore potential collaborations. We are also sharing our approach and lessons learned through social media content, including blogs and videos.
No organization is perfect, and we believe the most precious lessons can come from good-faith mistakes that happen through responsible experimentation within each of our organizations.
We are excited to continue sharing our process and learnings with you. Please follow us on social media, leave a comment, or reach out to us at email@example.com!
Anavi Strategies is a consulting firm that provides strategic planning, program design, implementation support, and evaluation services using equity-driven, and trauma-informed approaches. We support mission-driven leaders across all industries in transforming their organizations, expanding their public impact, and building towards their long-term vision. Anavi Strategies is nationally certified as a women-owned business enterprise (WBE) and a minority-owned business enterprise (MBE).
References:  Kearney, Audrey; Hamel, Liz; Brodie, Mollyan. “Mental Health Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Update.” April, 2021. (https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/poll-finding/mental-health-impact-of-the-covid-19-pandemic/; accessed on December 21, 2022).
 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics “Quits Levels and Rates by Industry and Region, Seasonally Adjusted.” November, 2022. (https://www.bls.gov/news.release/jolts.t04.htm; accessed on December 21, 2022).
 Cengage Group. “From the Great Resignation to the Great Reskilling: Insight on What’s Next for the Great Resigners.” January, 2022. (https://cengage.widen.net/s/78hrkqgfj7/cg-great-resigners-research-report-final; accessed on December 21, 2022)