5 Psychological Safety Exercises You Can Implement At Work
As the work culture has evolved, especially post-pandemic, psychological safety has gained considerable popularity. There has been a dramatic change in the dynamics of wellness programs.
Because of the relevance of agility, diversity, and remote working culture, there is a greater emphasis on paying attention to employees' mental health now than ever before. But with this ubiquity often comes a common misunderstanding that every healthy work environment comes with psychological safety.
Creating a psychologically safe workplace can be challenging and require high commitment and skills. This article aims to help you understand psychological safety and how to implement it at work.
As part of this blog, we will also discuss 5 psychological safety exercises you can use to create high-performing teams.
What Is Psychological Safety? Benefits Of Psychological Safety At Work
Psychological safety refers to the shared beliefs and ideologies within an organization or team where people feel safe to share or take interpersonal risks, such as speaking up, expressing their feelings, sharing their ideas, and taking the initiative without fear of retribution or being judged. Amy Edmondson, a professor from Harvard, first introduced this concept.
"Psychological safety is “the belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes.” – Amy C. Edmondson
Building a workplace culture of psychological safety has many benefits, not only for your employees but for your organization too. When your organization lacks psychological safety, fear in the workplace pervades later, resulting in a hostile work environment. In its absence, employees will hesitate to share their opinions or any new ideas. It then fosters a toxic work environment with less scope for innovation and new ideas to breathe in.
But introducing or implementing psychological safety as a core part of your workplace wellness culture can help prevent the above problems and ensure a more engaged and happy workplace. Here are a few reasons why it is important to practice psychological safety at work -
It helps to build trust and create a sense of belonging.
It improves employee engagement and strengthens the relationship between co-workers.
It helps to prevent both absenteeism and presenteeism.
It encourages brainstorming and problem-solving sessions.
It helps build a culture of innovation and creativity.
According to a study by Google called Project Aristotle, it has been found that psychological safety is the secret behind high-performing teams.
5 Psychological Safety Exercises To Practice At Work
"Great leadership is about making employees feel safe to focus on work without fear for survival."
Incorporating psychological safety exercises at work can vary depending on the size or culture of your team and organization. You can implement psychological safety exercises at work in both informal and formal ways. Depending on the organization's requirements and workforce, these can be a part of an intensive program or a small initiative.
As a team leader or manager, you can practice these five team-building activities that can help you promote psychological safety in the workplace -
1. Create A Recognition And Appreciation Culture.
You can organize or make it a part of your workplace culture to create appreciation circles for your employees or among your team members. Your employees or management can appreciate and express gratitude for their colleagues' or managers' contributions and performance without any fear of retribution. You can practice these through real-time sessions or platforms like Vantage Circle, which offers employee recognition and rewards features.
“One of the best ways to nurture an inclusive, safe culture is to develop a practice of appreciation.” – Karolin Helbig
The exercise helps foster a positive work environment, encourages supportive behavior, and builds employee trust. Additionally, it leads to improved employee engagement and productivity by improving their mental and emotional health.
Suggested Read : 4 Elements Of Organizational Culture - Impact On Mental Health
2. Make Room For Honest Mistakes.
As Alexander famously said, "To err is human."- this is relevant even in today's modern work life, where everyone hustles to get things done. But it is only humane to make mistakes in this fast-paced world, and one of the key factors in ensuring psychological safety at work is to make your employees feel safe to speak or admit their mistakes.
According to a research most workplaces reports that only 20% of attendees dominate 80 percent of the discussions. Psychological safety encourages people to speak up and increases participation.
As an employer, you can create a safer work environment for your employees by encouraging them to learn from their mistakes. You can host sessions where your employees can share their bits of past mistakes and failures and the lessons they learned from them.
By doing so, you will further demonstrate to your employees that mistakes are an essential part of growth and also encourage them to share their ideas and create a culture of innovation.
Suggested Read : Promoting Workplace Wellness Through Emotional Regulation
3. Conduct Warm-up Check-ins.
Another great example of psychological safety exercises at work is having warm-up check-ins once a week or month. Try to make it a habit to start your employees' day on a positive note. It can be done or achieved with minor changes in your work schedule, like-
Starting the meeting by asking your employees to have a quick pulse check.
Ask them to share one word about their current mindset or their mental state before heading to work.
Ask them how their day was and what is bothering them.
Try to focus more on their emotions and feelings rather than on their projects or pending deadlines.
Ensure that your team members feel safe and treated not just as an asset of the company, but as valued individuals.
By doing so, you'll open up a new perspective and open communication in the workplace. It'll help to build psychological safety and make problem-solving easier.
Suggested Read: Mood Meters : A New Corporate Health And Wellness Initiative
4. Host An Anxiety Party.
Anxiety at work is a common issue that affects many employees. When you host an anxiety party, you acknowledge the importance of mental health and create an environment where individuals can openly discuss their anxiety issues. By doing so, it reduces the stigma surrounding mental health and encourages employees to seek help when they need it.
“Part of the vulnerability of not having all the answers is the humility to share your ideas with your team before they’re fully formulated.” – Richard Sheridan
An anxiety party fosters a supportive culture within the workplace. It allows employees to connect, share their experiences, and offer support and empathy. It helps build relationships and a sense of community among co-workers, increasing job satisfaction and overall well-being.
The more employees feel supported and understood, the more likely they will be engaged. Hosting an anxiety party can increase employee motivation and morale by demonstrating your commitment to their well-being.
Suggested Read: 7 Ways You Can Help Employees Dealing With Work Anxiety
5. Try To Include Your Team In Decision-making.
Including your team in decision-making, sessions is one of the most important aspects of creating psychological safety at work. Consider asking them for their thoughts, opinions, and feedback. By including them in the decision-making process, not only will they feel more involved, but they will also feel safer and achieve better results.
Additionally, explain your reasoning when you make a decision. What role did their feedback play in the decision-making process? What other considerations were made? Even if your employees don't agree, they'll appreciate the honesty and transparency behind the decision.
When communicating decisions, highlight contributions from your team members. If a certain idea or piece of feedback led to the decision or a successful outcome, acknowledge and celebrate that employee's contribution.
According to the 2022 State of Talent Optimization Report, the third highest driver of employee retention is trust in senior leadership.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What Are The 4 Stages?
The four stages of psychological safety are -
1)Where you feel included,
2)Safe to learn,
3)Safe to contribute, and
4)Safe to challenge the quo, without the fear of retribution, embarrassment, or punishment of any kind.
2. What Is The Game For Psychological Safety?
Using the psychological safety game(EN)game, participants are asked to open up and share their thoughts about what factors might affect how safe they feel to make mistakes at work.
Summing It Up
“When leaders become genuine learners, they set a good example and help to create a psychologically safe environment for others.” – Edgar Schein
Thus, psychological safety is important in building a positive work environment where individuals feel free, safe, valued, and empowered to share their feedback and ideas.
By incorporating these exercises at work, you promote trust, vulnerability, and open communication in the workplace.
Investing in psychological safety benefits the employees and the organization as a whole. It further helps to improve productivity, engagement, and overall job satisfaction.
I hope this article helped you better understand what psychological safety exercises are and how you can benefit from them.
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