It’s a turbulent time to be in the working world. Redundancies are rife, burnout is on the rise and many workers are struggling to reconcile the barrier between their working and personal lives – especially in the context of the current cost-of-living crisis.
For HR, this means that the need for psychological safety at work has never been more critical. Employees want to work in a workplace where they can speak up, share their ideas, and be their authentic selves without fear of negative consequences.
Creating an environment of psychological safety not only improves engagement and productivity, but also contributes to overall wellbeing and improves the lives of today’s workforce.
What is psychological safety at work?
Psychological safety at work is the belief that a professional can express ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes without fear of punishment, humiliation, or negative repercussions.
This concept goes beyond just feeling comfortable sharing ideas; it includes feeling like an equal team member whose contributions are valued and heard, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or background.
Why Is psychological safety important?
Psychological safety has a profound impact on workplace dynamics and business outcomes. It contributes to improved employee engagement, as employees who feel safe to express themselves and have their ideas heard are more likely to be engaged in their work, leading to higher productivity.
It also contributes to better decision-making and innovation, as when employees feel safe, they are more likely to voice their opinions, which can lead to more informed decision-making and problem-solving. Psychological safety encourages creative thinking and risk-taking, fostering a culture where diverse perspectives can challenge the status quo and drive innovation.
And perhaps most importantly, psychological safety promotes a culture where everyone feels equal and included, enabling diverse perspectives to contribute to the team. Creating a safe environment where employees feel valued and supported positively impacts mental wellbeing, reducing stress and anxiety.
Psychological safety is not just a buzzterm; it's a critical component of a healthy workplace culture. To create an environment where employees can thrive, consider the following strategies:
Use empathetic language:
Communicate with empathy and understanding. It's important to consider everything that's communicated with staff, and asses to ensure you're promoting empathy and wellbeing.
Create a culture of feedback:
Encourage open lines of communication and provide opportunities for employees to share their thoughts and concerns.
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Conduct frequent one-on-one meetings:
Regular one-on-one meetings allow employees to express their needs and discuss workload, priorities, and expectations.
Train managers on mental health:
Provide mental health training to managers to equip them with the knowledge and skills to support their teams effectively.
Encourage vulnerability and authenticity:
Promote acts of vulnerability and authenticity in the workplace to foster connection and healing.
Lead by example:
Encourage leaders to prioritise psychological safety by demonstrating their commitment to it in their interactions and communication.
Psychological safety isn’t just a feel-good concept; it's a fundamental element of a thriving workplace. By adopting these strategies, companies can create a culture where employees feel safe, valued, and empowered to excel. In doing so, they can unlock the full potential of their workforce and reap the many benefits that psychological safety brings to the table.