The Power of Psychological Safety: a Thriving Workplace Culture
In today's fast-paced and ever-changing workplace, creating a culture of psychological safety is more important than ever before! It’s not just something that would be nice to have, it is a must-have! Psychological safety is critical because it allows people to feel as if they can speak up, take risks, and make mistakes without the fear of negative consequences. As leaders in the workplace, it's our responsibility to create an environment where our teams feel safe to express themselves, share ideas, and take calculated risks.
The Driver of Workplace Success and Health
Psychological safety drives organisational success because without it, employees won’t feel secure enough to thrive, innovate, and take creative and professional risks. Psychological safety is critical to building trust within all relationships in the workplace. When people feel safe, they are more likely to speak up and share ideas, which creates a sense of empowerment and ownership that drives engagement and productivity. Yet, when employees feel afraid to express themselves, they may hold back valuable feedback or ideas, leading to missed opportunities for growth and expansion, which ultimately affects business success.
It is essential in fostering the creativity and innovation of employees. When people feel that they are able to take risks and share their ideas openly and without judgement, they are more likely to think outside the box and create new solutions to complex problems. It also allows for constructive feedback and collaboration. You just never know where employee innovation will take you!
Psychological safety is most important for employee well-being. When employees feel supported at work, they experience less stress and anxiety and improved mental health. This can boost retention rates, as employees are more likely to stay with an organisation that prioritises their well-being. As the labour market becomes increasingly saturated with Gen Z, employers must prioritise well-being to attract and retain them, as studies have shown this is where Gen Z's priorities lie. It’s less about money and more about well-being. It’s important that your employees feel supported as whole individuals.
Building Trust: Steps to Create Psychological Safety
Creating workplace trust begins at the top. When you are open to accepting feedback and admitting mistakes, your employees will feel that there is space for them to do the same. Another great way to begin creating psychological safety is to provide your team with clear goals, expectations, and feedback on their performance. This will help them feel less uncertain and more confident in their abilities.
Building trust includes celebrating wins, big or small! This will help build confidence and create a positive atmosphere in the workplace. When failures do happen use them as opportunities to learn and grow. Focus on solutions and what can be done differently in the future instead of assigning blame. Encourage a growth mindset in your team, where failures are seen as opportunities to learn and improve. Read this article for more information on leaning into failure. When employees believe they can improve and develop their skills, they are more likely to try new things and will begin to see failures as opportunities.
Creating well-being and safety in the workplace requires a culture of respect for diversity and inclusion. It's crucial to encourage your team to embrace diversity and be open to different perspectives and ideas. Ensure that every individual feels respected and that their voice is heard. By valuing and celebrating differences, you'll foster an environment of trust and collaboration that allows everyone to feel safe to contribute and express their opinions.
Creating Psychological Safety in Hybrid Workplaces
Since the pandemic, workplaces have changed, and many are sticking with hybrid or remote models of working. With the changing landscape of workplace models, it can be incredibly challenging to build psychological safety through a screen or over the phone. Whether you work the hybrid model, from home, or from the office, psychological safety is equally as important in all spaces.
You can begin creating it in hybrid workplaces by encouraging open communication. Open communication is critical to trust and well-being in any workplace, however when you have people who aren’t in the same location as you it may be even more important. Providing training and support is critical as well. Ensure that you are giving people the right resources to work from home with. This can include training on communication and collaboration tools, as well as support for managing work-life balance and mental health.
Regularly check in with employees! Managers & bosses should regularly check in with employees to see how they are doing and whether they have any concerns or feedback. This can be achieved through regular one-on-ones, surveys, or other feedback platforms. By regularly checking in with employees, you demonstrate that you care about their well-being and are committed to creating a safe and inclusive workplace.
Fostering Growth, Collaboration, and Success
Creating well-being and safety requires ongoing effort and commitment from everyone, but the benefits are clear. Employees who feel psychologically safe are more engaged, productive, and innovative, and they are more likely to stay with their employer long-term. In contrast, workplaces that lack trust and care for well-being often experience high turnover rates, low morale, and reduced productivity. By prioritising psychological safety, organisations can create a culture that fosters growth, collaboration, and success for everyone!
Bosler, S. (2021). 9 strategies to create psychological safety at work. Quantum Workplace. https://www.quantumworkplace.com/future-of-work/create-psychological-safety-in-the-workplace
Centre for Creative Leadership. (2022). What is psychological safety? How leaders can build psychologically safe workplaces. Centre of Creative Leadership. https://www.ccl.org/articles/leading-effectively-articles/what-is-psychological-safety-at-work/
Edmonson, A. & Mortenson, M. (2021). What psychological safety looks like in a hybrid workplace. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2021/04/what-psychological-safety-looks-like-in-a-hybrid-workplace
Forbes Business Council. (2020). 15 ways to promote psychological safety at work. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2020/12/07/15-ways-to-promote-psychological-safety-at-work/?sh=5f53c0ce23b2