Practical ways to build psychological safety

October 28, 20200 CommentLeadership , Mental health

There are few places where people spend as much time as the workplace; therefore it is understandable when employees do not only ask for better salaries but also request healthier environments. As a field, organisational psychology is focused on accomplishing improving the health and wellbeing within the workplace setting; it studies the workplace and focuses on providing the tools and techniques to improve its conditions.

Organisational psychologists have proposed many strategies to tackle this issue, one of which is known as psychological safety, a concept which conveys the feeling that every member of the workplace is important, their opinion is relevant and they want to be listened to. 

While psychological safety is something that might be taken for granted, the truth is that not every company appreciates it’s value. Neglecting the role of psychological safety in the working environment has a negative impact across culture, productivity and absenteeism. Communication is essential for healthy and effective interactions but this is not possible if employees are not comfortable in speaking up and asking questions. The evidence for the benefits of psychological safety shows that: 

  • It enhances productivity, employees perform better at work when they are allowed to share their suggestions and concerns. Furthermore, since employees are deeply involved in the company’s process, they can offer valuable information regarding the company and its business.
  • It promotes a sense of community, humans need to feel like they belong, which is why it is a game-changer when employers treat their colleagues as a team rather than as disposable resources.  This reduces turnover rates while increasing loyalty.

Psychological safety comes with multiple perks, and managers should try to implement the following steps in order to take advantage of it:

  1. Build up the environment for communication. Managers need to invest time and resources into knowing and bonding with their team. This means that employers need to organise activities where the main goal is to get to know each other, in order to build up their trust.  
  2. Engage in reflective listening. Reach out to your team regarding the company’s issues that matter to you, as well as the ones that are important for them. To do this, you can schedule meetings with your team, to discuss the important issues of the company. If you decide to take this step, it is important to remember that you need to fully engage in the activity, which means that you must give 100% of your committed attention. 
  3. Give credit when credit is due. When you are listening to your employees, do not forget to acknowledge their good work. Everyone feels good when they are rewarded, by doing so you will show your employees that you care about their success and development. This will also boost your employees’ willingness to share their suggestions in the future. 
  4. Support your team even when they fail. Finally, but just as important, remember to show empathy with your team when things are not going so well for them. Creating a psychologically safe environment is about communication and acceptance, praise them for their effort and encourage them to keep sharing regardless of the outcome.

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