Why Psychological Safety is Vital for Your Business Goals2 min read.
Next week's Mental Health Awareness Week prompted us to consider workplace wellbeing and in particular why ensuring that people feel safe to speak up in the workplace can be beneficial to your business goals....
Psychological safety has gained a lot of traction in recent years, as companies and organisations recognise the importance of employee wellbeing in the workplace.
The introduction of a new global standard on managing psychological health and safety at work (ISO 45003, if you’re interested) is a positive step forward in providing practical guidance and has created an imperative to incorporate it into a wider programme of workplace wellbeing initiatives.
Implemented correctly, it has benefits not just for the individual, but also in the context of an organisation’s wider objectives, such as:
- Improved recruitment, retention, and diversity
- Enhanced worker engagement
- Increased innovation
- Reduced absence from workplace stress, burnout, anxiety, and depression
All these things are aligned with the aims of a strong Employer Brand, which should not only attract and retain talent, but also act as an organisation’s sat nav for success.
At its core, psychological safety means being able to confidently express yourself in the workplace without fear of negative consequences.
It is about employees feeling comfortable voicing their ideas, opinions, and concerns without fear of reprisal or judgement.
For any organisation that wants to foster a culture of innovation and creativity, it is vital. When employees feel safe speaking their minds, and being their ‘whole self’ to work, they are more likely to share new ideas and ways of thinking, leading to more effective problem solving and greater innovation within the organisation.
It also leads to better communication and collaboration. When employees feel safe expressing themselves, they are more likely to share information, ask for help when needed, and work together to achieve common goals through teamwork.
Outside of helping achieve strategic objectives, psychological safety is essential for employee wellbeing. When employees feel safe and supported, they are less likely to experience stress, anxiety, and burnout. This can lead to improved job satisfaction, better mental and physical health, and increased employee retention.
You may not even recognise that there is a problem with it in your organisation, particularly if, ironically, people are reticent to speak up about it. And the situation is further complicated by hybrid and remote working arrangements where simple logistics come into play.
If you’re not sure, Flexwork produced 10 red flags to watch for that might betray a toxic hybrid workplace.
Psychological Safety at work
So, what is the best way to implement measures to promote psychological safety in the workplace? Here are some key strategies:
Encourage open and honest communication
Allow employees to share their thoughts and ideas, anonymously if need be, and actively listen to their feedback. Create an environment where it is safe to ask questions and raise concerns.
Lead by example
Model positive behaviour by actively listening to others, being open to feedback, and showing empathy and understanding towards your colleagues.
Training and support
Facilitate training on topics such as communication, conflict resolution, and emotional intelligence. Offer support and resources for employees who may be struggling with mental health issues.
Foster a culture of respect and inclusivity
Create a workplace culture that values and respects diversity and promotes inclusivity. Celebrate differences and ensure that all employees feel valued and included.
Act on feedback
Actively seek out and address employee feedback. Show that you are committed to making positive changes and improving the workplace environment.
Look at the data
What is your staff turnover like? What are your current employee engagement levels and what are they what are the individuals within the organisation saying and collective team saying?
It doesn’t need to be too formal, but managers should check on team members regularly. Praise and even a formalised recognition system does wonders for esteem and morale.
Avoiding burnout at work
In addition to feeling empowered to stand up in a meeting and propose a four-day week, the notion of psychological safety also touches upon the pressure that work often places people under.
According to a survey by Workhuman 48% of people somewhat or strongly agreed they’ve experienced burnout; 61% have experienced elevated stress levels and 32% somewhat or strongly agree they have felt lonely at work.
Ultimately, creating a culture of psychological safety requires a commitment from both employees and employers. It is important for management to take an active role in promoting wellbeing programmes, but it is also important for employees to feel empowered to speak up and share their ideas.
The new global standard provides practical guidance on managing psychological health and safety at work, but its importance goes beyond compliance and should be part of a culture committed to ensuring workers feel valued.
By implementing measures to promote psychological safety, employers can demonstrate their commitment to employee wellbeing and create a workplace environment that is supportive, inclusive, and conducive to success.