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Step 3: Determine priorities and develop an action plan

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This step focuses on how to use the findings from the VT–ORG assessment to help identify the priorities that will inform the development of your action plan. You will need the VT–ORG Scoresheet and the Report on VT–ORG Findings you developed in step 2.

Task 3a: Identify Areas of Strengths and Gaps

  1. Review the scores entered in the Data by Area of Organizational Health and Individual Statements section of the report and determine—
    • strengths to maintain (average scores in the 3.5–5 range may represent strengths). Acknowledge and appreciate the policies and practices that contribute to your capacity as a vicarious trauma-informed organization , and commit to maintaining them or enhancing them as needed.
    • gaps to address (average scores in the 1–3 range may represent gaps). Note those practices that occur infrequently or not at all, and determine which ones to address.
  2. Open the Action Plan tab on the VTT Scoresheet.
  3. Examine the findings for each of the five areas of organizational health and highlight your strengths in green and the gaps you want to work on in red.
  4. For each item, discuss the reasons why a practice may have received a particular score and enter them in the Rationale: Possible Reasons for This Score column.

Task 3b: Review the VT–ORG Assessment Findings

The designated individual(s) or team should convene as soon as possible and create a process for building consensus regarding the VT–ORG report and next steps.

Suggested Agenda Items for the First Meeting

  • Response quality: Discuss whether the response rate is adequate to inform next steps and whether it is a fair reflection of your staff as a whole. Consider opening it up again for additional responses, if it is not.
  • Critical issues: Discuss any internal or external influences that occurred during the assessment period that may provide some context for the results (e.g., employee layoffs, leadership changes, natural disasters, mass casualty events, staff injuries or deaths, other critical incidents).
  • Strengths and gaps: Begin to discuss priorities for maintaining strengths and addressing gaps.

Considerations for Setting Priorities

  • Which area(s) of organizational health pose the greatest challenges and why?
  • Are there existing policies or practices that can be easily maintained or enhanced with little additional effort? Are there new ones that can also be easily implemented (e.g. “low hanging fruit”)?
  • What is the timeline for addressing priorities? The timeline might reflect the assigned priority level and the amount of time and personnel needed to accomplish the tasks, including if some require short- and long-term steps, and whether they need to be implemented in a particular sequence or can happen simultaneously.
  • Can you use your organization’s mission and values to help you set priorities?

Task 3c: Create an Action Plan

Your action plan should include steps for maintaining/enhancing strengths and addressing gaps.

  1. Review the highlighted strengths and gaps.
  2. In the column labeled “Priority Level,” assign a score to each item (1 being the highest priority and 3 being the lowest priority).
  3. Identify tasks to address each item, including identifying resources within the toolkit.
  4. Identify a person(s) responsible for each task.
  5. Assign a realistic timeline that will facilitate monitoring of progress.

See the following example:

Area of Organizational Health Specific Item From VT–ORG VT–ORG Score Rationale (Possible Reasons for This Score) Priority Level (1–3) Tasks To Maintain or Build Capacity Lead/ Responsible Parties Timeline (Month/ Year)
Staff Health and Wellness My agency offers services that support individual staff members (e.g., employee assistance program, chaplain services, contracted mental health providers). 4.5 Past efforts have taken hold and this level of support already provided. 1 Maintain budget to support existing services.

Ensure employees are aware of resources.

Review HR policies regarding confidential nature of services.
Executive Director, Human Resources Director January 2018


Task 3d: Share the Action Plan With Staff

Consider the best forum(s) for communicating the priorities, tasks, responsible parties, and timeline for the action plan. This is an opportunity to emphasize that all tasks will be undertaken during regular work hours, staff’s role in the process, and how it will ultimately address staff and the organizational needs.

Organizations can determine which of the following options works best for them:

  • Discuss the action plan at a staff meeting, offering staff the opportunity to comment on the findings and the planned activities, and provide ideas regarding additional steps.
  • Convene a meeting with a select group of agency representatives to discuss the VT–ORG assessment findings and the action plan, help interpret the results, and generate ideas to inform next steps.

Task 3e. Evaluate Organizational Response

Build in a monitoring process for the action plan. You may consider repeating the VT–ORG assessment after 1 year to determine if the areas where actions were taken show improvement in scores.

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