Written by Ross Abbott, Head of Health & Wellbeing.
When we think of workplace safety, traditionally the first thing that comes to mind is physical safety – avoiding injuries, health risks, and dangerous situations. However, there is another type of safety that is often overlooked: psychological safety.
Psychological safety in the workplace is just as important as physical safety. It involves creating a work environment where employees feel comfortable speaking up without fear of repercussions or judgement. In this blog post, I will discuss what psychological safety at work looks like and how it can benefit your organization. I will also provide some tips for creating an environment where employees feel safe to take risks and express themselves freely.
What is psychological safety?
Psychological safety, a term coined by Harvard Professor Amy Edmonson, is the belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, or concerns. It’s a field of study in organizational psychology that’s gained traction in recent years as a result of Google’s Project Aristotle, which set out to identify the key ingredients of their successful teams.
One of the main findings from Project Aristotle was that psychological safety was more important than anything else—even more important than skillset, intelligence, or drive—for predicting team success. Simply put, team members who feel safe are more likely to take risks, be creative, and do their best work.
While psychological safety is often thought of as something that needs to be fostered within a team or organization, it starts with each individual. Each of us needs to feel safe enough to speak up, share our ideas, and take risks. When we don’t feel safe, we hold back. We stop being curious and innovative. We miss out on opportunities to grow and learn.
Creating a culture of psychological safety can be challenging, but it starts with small steps. Here are a few things you can do to create a psychologically safe environment:
- Encourage open communication: Make it safe for people to speak up by encouraging open communication and discouraging gossip or rumour-mongering.
- Model vulnerability: Showing vulnerability yourself sets the tone for others to do the same. It takes courage to be vulnerable.
The importance of psychological safety in the workplace
Psychological safety is important in the workplace because it allows employees to feel comfortable expressing themselves and their ideas without fear of judgement or retribution. This type of environment fosters creativity and innovation, as well as a sense of camaraderie and teamwork. Additionally, research has shown that psychologically safe workplaces have higher levels of employee engagement and satisfaction, as well as lower rates of turnover.
Creating a psychologically safe workplace starts with leaders setting the tone and establishing clear expectations. It is also important to create an open and inclusive culture where everyone feels like they belong. Finally, ongoing communication and feedback are essential to maintaining psychological safety in the workplace.
How to create a psychologically safe workplace
Psychological safety is a term used in industrial and organizational psychology to describe the extent to which employees feel safe to take risks and be themselves at work.
A psychologically safe workplace is one where employees feel like they can openly give and receive feedback, take risks without fear of repercussions, and generally be themselves without feeling like they have to conform to some artificial standard.
Creating a psychologically safe workplace starts with leadership setting the tone from the top that it’s okay to fail, make mistakes, and learn from them. Leaders need to model the behaviour they want to see in their team members and create an environment where everyone feels comfortable speaking up.
It’s also important to have systems and processes in place that encourage psychological safety. For example, regular check-ins with team members can create an open dialogue about how things are going, both good and bad. And having a clear process for giving and receiving feedback can help ensure that everyone feels like their voice is being heard.
Ultimately, creating a psychologically safe workplace requires a commitment from everyone involved. But when done right, it can lead to improved performance, creativity, and engagement from employees.
The benefits of a psychologically safe workplace
A psychologically safe workplace is one where employees feel comfortable expressing themselves and their ideas, without fear of judgement or reprisal. This type of environment can lead to increased creativity and innovation, as well as improved communication and collaboration.
Psychological safety has been shown to have a number of benefits for both employees and organizations. For employees, it can lead to increased job satisfaction and engagement, as well as reduced stress and anxiety. For organizations, a psychologically safe workplace can improve team performance and productivity, while also reducing turnover.
Creating a psychologically safe workplace requires commitment from leaders and managers, as well as a willingness to foster an open and honest culture. If you’re interested in creating a more psychologically safe workplace, there are a few things you can do to get started:
- Encourage employees to share their ideas openly, without fear of judgement.
- Create opportunities for employees to give feedback to one another, in both formal and informal settings.
- Make it clear that mistakes are okay, and that they can be used as learning opportunities.
- Encourage healthy debate and discussion among employees.
- Lead by example by being open and transparent.
Psychological safety in the workplace is an important concept that should not be overlooked. When managers and employees alike create an environment where everyone feels safe to speak up, ask questions, and express their opinions without fear of judgement or ridicule, it can have a huge impact on team morale, job satisfaction, and productivity.
By making sure that your organization has a clear set of expectations around psychological safety in the workplace you are helping to ensure a better working environment for all involved.