Wellbeing | Unlocking people potential with psychological safety

Unlocking people potential with psychological safety

By Simon Daly, Employee Experience Strategy Director, Qualtrics

Why is psychological safety so important in today’s workplaces? Discover the key to maximising your team's potential with the transformative power of psychological safety. This article delves into the reasons why and the strategies of how to unlock productivity and drive success in your organisation.

Imagine a meeting where your fresh ideas take a backseat, eclipsed by the fear of sounding foolish. Or a moment when you find yourself nodding along to practices you internally question. Whether you're the new hire with vibrant yet untapped insight, or a long-standing employee who rarely challenges the status quo, you've likely encountered the invisible barriers within the workplace that hinder innovation and stifle growth.

Far from trivial, this challenge has profound implications for today's work environment. With the landscape marred by economic uncertainties, societal upheavals, and technological disruptions, 2024 demands an agility from organisations that can only be achieved through a culture of psychological safety.

Consider scenarios where safety is non-negotiable, like in aviation or manufacturing. There is no hesitation to report incidents or hazards – the risk of silence is intuitively understood. Yet why, in office settings, do we find ourselves encased in self-imposed silences?

"Psychological safety" isn't merely a buzz phrase; it is the bedrock upon which organisations can build dynamic, high-performing teams. It's the assurance that thoughts and concerns can be aired without repercussion or ridicule. It is in such environments that employees can truly bring their whole selves to work and, in essence, drive the company forward.

Many organisations are still grappling with the optimised number of days in the office for balance, engagement and productivity (it's three by the way, check out the trends report on this very subject). Agility is crucial if organisations are to succeed. Failing fast, learning from others, adapting and being able to pivot with the entire team behind you - these are all critical attributes and they dont happen when everyone sits quietly hoping that it will be fine. Unlocking psychological safety will create high performance in teams and could mean the difference between succeeding and a business not existing in 12 months time.

How to achieve psychological safety?

How can companies foster an atmosphere where every voice not only matters but is encouraged? In essence, how can we turn psychological safety from an idealistic concept into an everyday reality? Here are a few proven strategies:

  • Frame work as a collaborative learning process, valuing all contributions;

  • Establish a culture where everyone, even leaders, admits to fallibility;

  • Remove hierarchy from dialogue, encouraging human-to-human interactions;

  • Welcome challenges and objections and consider them with an open mind;

  • Replace blame with curiosity, asking questions and exploring creatively;

  • Seek feedback on delivery – find out what works, what's missing, what hasn't been considered;

  • Measure psychological safety regularly – how safe do employees feel to speak up?

Enduring change won't materialise overnight, but persistence in these protocols will morph individual habits into collective culture.

The outcomes?

You'll witness enhanced collaboration not mandated by top-down directives but driven by genuine collective interest. Employees will tune in keenly to leadership updates, recognising their stake in the game. Change will be embraced with enthusiasm, and mistakes will be forgiven and learned from, fostering an atmosphere of continual progress.

Above all, your organisation could become the employer of choice, attracting new talent not through laborious recruitment drives, but through the advocacy of satisfied, empowered employees.

To hear more about the many tools being used by leading businesses to ensure they have an engaged workforce, join us at Qualtrics X4 London. Here, you'll uncover the insights, strategies, and networks that set the stage for great employee experience.

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Acting on employee feedback is the number one way to attract, retain and engage top talent, with leaders reporting 3x more revenue per employee and 40% lower turnover. But here’s the catch: only 19% of UK employees say their organisation listens to their opinions. Qualtrics helps brands like Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Barclays to close that experience gap, enabling them to design and improve experiences across the employee lifecycle - from recruitment through to exit.