Psychological safety is when individuals feel safe to take interpersonal risks

psychological-safety

Psychological safety is when individuals feel safe to take interpersonal risks. In the workplace, this means employees feel safe to speak up and share their views without fear of retribution. They feel safe to be 100% themselves and bring their own unique qualities with them. 

Where psychological safety is present, employees feel heard and supported, creativity and innovation increases, as does employee retention and engagement, and overall business performance.

employee-psychological-safety

Psychological safety is fundamental to employee wellbeing. Where psychological safety exists, employees are less likely to experience work-related stress and anxiety, and burnout is prevented. 

Where psychological safety is lacking, the opposite can happen. Employees don’t speak up, creativity becomes stifled and conformity creeps in. Businesses don’t progress as they fail to innovate and retain and attract talent. Where this persists, toxic cultures emerge, as dominant voices take control. 

There are lots of ways in which organisations can encourage psychological safety in the workplace, here’s just a few of our top tips: 

1. Listen and build connections.

Actively listen to your employees, ask questions and take the time to understand and learn about them. Where employees feel heard, they are more likely to share and speak up.

2. Feedback

Actively seek out feedback, ask employees for their views, bring them into the conversation and make them part of the decision making process. Inclusion is key to psychological safety. 

3. See mistakes as an opportunity to learn 

When mistakes happen, don’t look to blame. Instead, seek to understand. Work with employees to solve problems – ‘how can we prevent this from happening in the future’. Failure and how you learn from it is key to fast-moving innovative cultures.

4. Be consistent 

Consistent behaviour amongst leaders is really important when creating a supportive culture. Uncertain environments, where employees second guess how leaders will respond, do not build trust, and can lead to increased incidences of work-related stress and anxiety. 

5. Encourage creativity 

Make sure employees have space and time to be creative and think. Limit back-to-back meetings, encourage idea sharing, and promote thinking time.

6. Reward and recognise 

Rewarding positive behaviours is key to ensuring psychological safety. Recognise employees when they give feedback or when they share a new idea. Encourage them to do the same with their peers. By rewarding the positive behaviours you want, you will get more of the same. 

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