Have you ever been a part of a workplace where you had to think twice before speaking up, or couldn’t at all? A workplace where you felt unsafe and uncomfortable? A workplace you couldn’t wait to go home from?
A workspace needs to be a psychologically safe and affirming environment for employers and employees alike. Psychological safety in the workplace isn’t just about being and feeling safe from threat and harm but also about enjoying dignity, respect, rights, and inclusivity.
In a psychologically safe workspace, everyone’s thoughts and opinions matter, making mistakes okay and team members supporting and standing by one another.
What is the Importance Of Psychological Safety In the Workplace?
Psychological safety in the workplace creates an environment wherein everyone feels appreciated and valued. In turn, it views the workspace and their work experience, on the whole, as more positive and fulfilling.
Conversely, if a safe working environment is not created, employees might struggle with discontent, anxiety, sadness, and even burnout.
Here are a few pillars of psychological safety at the workplace:
- Making room for mistakes: No matter how much one wants to be, nobody’s perfect. Mistakes are part and parcel of life. At a psychologically safe workspace, organizations, leaders, and employees make mistakes, own the mistakes they make, and learn from those mistakes.
- Implementing new ideas and taking risks: Ideas define a workspace (and whether or not they’re psychologically safe, of course!) and can potentially impact others. Therefore, workplace psychological safety includes building a space where employees can openly express and are valued for their ideas: the new, the weird, the inspiring.
- Cultivating transparency: Working with people means working with, well, people. Therefore, a vital aspect of psychological safety at the workplace is addressing and resolving interpersonal conflict and other issues and strengthening employee engagement.
How to Create Psychological Safety at Work?
Here are a few ways in which an organization can create a safe and positive workplace
- Encouraging self-awareness among employers and employees
Self-awareness and growing personally as well as professionally go hand-in-hand. Some exercises to promote self-awareness include listing strengths and weaknesses, implementing feedback mechanisms based on self-and peer-evaluation, and asking everyone to reflect upon personal and organizational values.
- Check-in on your employees
Apart from work, it is also essential to check your employee’s mental and physical well-being. Initiate small conversations to get to know your employees better. Ask them about what they like, what they dislike, or something about their family.
Get to know them personally as well. This will help you to build a personal rapport and trust between your employees. For example, remembering to wish them a happy birthday makes them feel they’re important to you. These are some of the psychological safety examples that you can follow.
- Working as a team
Tasks assigned to groups rather than individuals generate a sense of collective belongingness and engagement and encourage innovative problem-solving.
- Inviting all employees to meetings
While brainstorming, creating campaigns, and looking out for innovative ideas, try to accommodate employees working at different levels of the organization.
This will make everyone feel equally important and valued for the work they do. Moreover, more heads mean more ideas, especially around what each individual might need to feel psychologically safe at the workplace.
- Ask questions at meetings to engage employees
Ask for their opinions and viewpoints during a meeting. This will promote engagement and will help you get a diversified opinion on different issues. At the same time, it will give your workers opportunities to voice themselves out and make them feel confident.
- Appreciating and rewarding big and small successes
No doubt, being recognized and appreciated boosts determination and fulfillment. Rewarding hard work and successes can go a long way in ensuring that employees feel excited about work and look forward to giving it their best.
- Encouraging open communication
Open and honest communication between employers and employees, or even between team members, keeps a workplace running smoothly and makes it psychologically safe.
All employees, irrespective of their job title and role, should speak their minds freely. Feedback mechanisms and follow-up discussions can further enhance communication between employers and employees.
- Setting achievable and thoughtful deadlines
When work is assigned, it could be divided into smaller goals to be accomplished in shorter timelines to help employees do their best every day with a goal in sight. While deadlines can be established to avoid confusion and a last-minute flurry of work, they must also leave scope for unpredictable human factors.
- Talking about the company’s future and changes to expect
A fundamental component of a psychologically safe workplace is making everyone feel secure in their job and encouraging active participation in learning about and being a part of the organization’s growth and future. If the organization is trying out new ways of working, employees’ opinions should be considered in decision-making.
- Building infrastructure accessible to a diverse set of individuals
Everyone has a different set of needs and expectations from employers. In building a psychologically safe workplace, it is imperative to acknowledge and understand social, political, cultural, and economic diversities and ensure that everyone feels fairly and equally treated at work.
- Combining work with fun
Group activities that focus on everyone getting to know one another and having a good time together build a sense of community at work. Feeling connected with their peers helps employees feel seen and heard, and supported.
To promote psychological safety in a fun way, quizzes around psychological safety could be answered regularly, and psychological safety exercises could be conducted, such as a Psychological Safety Quiz.
A psychologically safe workplace where employees feel trusted and trust one another has great potential to be successful and have happy and loyal employees who are unafraid to innovate and share their million-dollar ideas. Hence, it is essential to know how to create safe working environments.