Psychological Safety At Work- Understanding The 5 Benefits Of It
Incorporating psychological safety into your wellness program has become increasingly popular in today's rapidly evolving workplace. With the growing pace and drastic transition of workplace dynamics, a lot of stress and uncertainty impact employees' mental and physical health.
When you're in a room free to share your views and thoughts, you are more likely to engage and be more productive. There is a direct impact on ensuring psychological safety at work and the mental health of your employees.
There is a tendency to overlook and undervalue psychological safety in the workplace. Employees are more engaged and likely to contribute game-changing ideas in a psychologically safe workplace.
This article will help you understand the importance of psychological safety in the workplace and how it can benefit your employees and the organization.
What Is Psychological Safety In The Workplace?
People often confuse psychological safety with psychological health. Although both are closely related, they don't mean the same thing. Psychological health refers to an individual's overall well-being and mental health. It encompasses a variety of factors such as emotional regulation, self-esteem, resilience, and the ability to cope with stress and adversity.
On the other hand, psychological safety at work refers to the feeling of being able to speak up, take more risks, and feel safe to make mistakes without fear of being judged. The term psychological safety was first coined in a 1999 article by Professor Dr. Amy Edmondson of Harvard Business School. She explains that feeling psychologically safe means the absence of interpersonal fear.
A psychologically safe workplace ensures that employees feel accepted, respected, and valued for their contributions. Employees in a safe workplace believe that their opinions and perspectives are heard and considered, even if they differ from the prevailing ones.
Here are some key characteristics of a psychologically safe work environment -
1. Open Communication
Try to promote an open and honest communication culture where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, options, and views without fearing ridicule or retribution.
2. Respect And Trust
A healthy work environment can contribute significantly to the loyalty and trust of your employees. If your work culture ensures psychological safety, employees will feel safe and confident that their managers/colleagues will respect and treat them fairly.
3. An Inclusive And Diverse Culture
Another key characteristic is that employers encourage a more inclusive and diverse workplace culture. It promotes and values diversity within the organization, ensuring every employee feels included regardless of race, background, religion, or sex.
4. Supportive Leadership
Leaders and managers play a crucial role in ensuring psychological safety in the workplace. They can achieve the same by encouraging participation and actively listening to their team members. These traits further help to foster an atmosphere of collaboration and constructive feedback.
Suggested Read: Reimagining The Role of Leadership in Employee Wellness
5 Benefits Of Psychological Safety At Work
Incorporating or ensuring psychological safety for your employees should be one of the top priorities of your wellness program. It is a crucial aspect of a productive and healthy work environment. It creates a healthy balance between your employees' work and personal lives.
But creating psychological safety goes beyond just encouraging people to speak up. It also includes how an employer views work-life balance. A workplace wellness initiative is not just another part of your organization's overall wellness strategy; it must be effective and efficient.
Here are the five benefits of ensuring psychological safety in the workplace -
1. Increased Creativity And Innovation
When you have psychological safety in the workplace, your employees feel safe to share their ideas and take more risks without the fear of judgment or criticism. They think more freely, creating an environment where employees can freely express their opinions and voice. It fosters a culture of creativity and innovation in the workplace.
It leads to developing new processes, products, and solutions that drive the organization's success. It further leads to a more agile work environment and workforce.
According to a recent study, almost 89% of U.S. employees feel it is the responsibility of business leaders to ensure and create psychological safety at work.
2. Improves Collaboration And Teamwork
When you create a psychologically safe work environment, you help your employees or members of a team feel more comfortable collaborating and working together. It builds trust between employees and employers to work mutually without fearing retribution. Your employees will feel like their employers or team members will actively listen to what they have to contribute.
Again, this encourages effective teamwork, cooperation, and knowledge sharing. Employees feel more comfortable engaging in open discussions and seeking out help whenever they feel like it, without hesitation. Therefore, psychological safety creates a safer collaboration, leading to higher productivity and better outcomes.
3. Increased Employee Engagement And Well-being
Work engagement refers to the state of mind when you feel more energetic and committed to doing your work. And psychological safety plays a key role in it. According to a 2017 Gallup survey, only 33% of U.S. employees feel engaged.
However, it could be achieved by creating a psychologically safe work environment where they feel more valued or supported by their managers and colleagues. It again leads to higher job satisfaction and better mental well-being of your employees. Employees feel more free to speak up openly and share their views with the managers. It gives them a sense of belonging and authority in the workplace.
It also helps to reduce fear and anxiety at work. When employees feel psychologically safe, they experience low fear and deal better with anxiety at work. It reduces work-related anxiety or stress and promotes the well-being of your employees. It also helps employees manage workplace challenges more effectively.
Suggested Read: Top 10 Benefits Of An Employee Wellness Program
4. Creates A More Inclusive And Diverse Culture
When you create or promote psychological safety in the workplace, you send a clear message that everyone in your organization is valued and heard, regardless of sex, race, color, religion, or ethnicity.
When your employees feel safe or the organization respects the beliefs held by team members, it fosters psychological safety. It promotes diversity and instills a sense of inclusivity, leading to a more profound connection between employees and the organization.
Suggested Read: 4 Elements Of Organizational Culture - Impact On Mental Health
5. Reduced Turnover And Improved Organization's Success
Workplace psychological safety cultivates a positive work environment and strengthens employee loyalty. In addition, employees who feel valued, respected, and supported are more likely to remain with the organization and participate actively in its success. As a result, turnover rates and recruitment and training costs are reduced.
It impacts overall organizational performance too. It encourages knowledge sharing, fosters continuous improvement, and enables organizations to leverage their workforce's diverse, effective team perspectives and talents. All of these, in turn, lead to increased productivity, innovation, and adaptability to changing market conditions.
By cultivating psychological safety, organizations can unlock the full potential of their employees and foster a culture of trust and collaboration. They can create an environment conducive to growth and success.
How To Create Psychological Safety In The Workplace?
Creating psychological safety at work is crucial for employees to feel safe and comfortable taking risks, expressing themselves, and contributing their best to the workplace. Here are a few ways how you can create psychological safety in the workplace -
1. Lead By Example
Managers and leaders play an important role in maintaining psychological safety at work. Try demonstrating vulnerability, openness, and approachability by encouraging feedback, allowing mistakes, and valuing diverse perspectives.
Suggested Read: Role of Leadership in Employee Wellness post-COVID19
2. Encourage Open Communication
Create an open environment where employees can express their ideas, feedback, and opinions without fear of negative repercussions. Respond constructively to their inputs and actively listen to their concerns.
3. Promote Work-life Balance
Encourage healthy work-life balance by supporting your employees in their activities or hobbies. Encourage them to take breaks, vacations or provide flexibility at work whenever possible. Recognizing that your employee's life outside work affects their productivity and psychological safety is essential.
Suggested Read: 8 Awesome Ideas For Brain Breaks For Adults
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What Are The 3 Fundamentals Of Psychological Safety?
According to Edmondson, there are 3 simple things you can do to foster psychological safety : Frame the work as a learning problem, not an execution problem. Acknowledge your own fallibility. Model curiosity and ask lots of questions.
2. Why Is Psychological Safety Important ?
Having a psychologically safe environment leads to team members feeling more engaged and motivated, since they feel their contributions matter and they can speak up without fear of retaliation.
3. How Do You Measure Psychological Safety ?
Pulse surveys are one way to measure psychological safety. You can identify patterns and trends in your employees' attitudes towards taking risks and speaking up.
Summing It Up
Thus, your employee's performance will improve due to creating a psychologically safe workplace. And when employees feel safe and engaged at work, they are less likely to quit. It further helps both in retention and enhanced productivity.
As a result, when an organization prioritizes psychological safety in the workplace, it tends to foster a culture of continuous learning, adaptability, and resilience. It further helps the organization to grow in today's rapidly fast-paced and ever-changing work environment.
I hope this article helped you to understand the importance of psychological safety at work and how to create one for your organization.
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