In the workplace, we often discuss creating a “safe” space where employees can feel comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions. But what does that mean, and why is it so important?
The term “psychological safety” was first used by Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmonson in 1999. She defines it as “a sense of confidence that one will not be punished or embarrassed for speaking honestly about thoughts and feelings.”
In other words, psychological safety is a feeling of trust and mutual respect that allows people to take risks without fear of reprisal. It’s the critical ingredient for innovative thinking and productive collaboration. And this applies to anyone in the workplace, from entry-level employees to senior leaders.
According to a study by Google, the number one predictor of a team’s success is not intelligence or experience but psychological safety.
So why is it so hard to create in the workplace? And how can you do it? Read on to find out.
What Is Psychological Safety at Work?
Psychological safety is the belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for expressing concerns or ideas. A shared belief within a team is that the environment is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.
Leaders must encourage open communication and trust through a psychological safety model to create a psychologically safe workplace. They should also give employees opportunities to provide feedback and collaborate on projects.
How To Create Psychological Safety at Work: 7 Ways To Support Your Team’s Mental Health
You can do a few key things to create a psychologically safe workplace. Following these tips can encourage open communication and trust within your team.
Encourage Open Communication
One of the most important things managers can do to encourage psychological safety at work is to promote open communication. When people feel like they can openly share their thoughts and ideas, they’re more likely to feel comfortable raising concerns and speaking up when something isn’t right. There are a few critical actions that managers can take to encourage open communication:
- Encourage employees to share their thoughts and ideas, even if they’re not sure if they’re fully formed.
- Make it safe for employees to speak up by creating an environment where it’s okay to make mistakes.
Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking is an excellent resource for understanding the importance of introverts in the workplace.
Feedback is an essential part of any workplace – it helps us to learn from our mistakes, identify areas for improvement, and ultimately become better at our jobs. However, feedback can also be a source of anxiety and stress, particularly if it is not given in a constructive or supportive way. This is where psychological safety comes in.
Employees will feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas by ensuring that feedback is given in a supportive and non-judgmental way. Additionally, providing resources such as training programs and development opportunities can help with tips on how to increase psychological safety at work.
Model Positive Behavior
How to ensure psychological safety in the workplace starts with modeling the correct behavior. When employees feel supported by their leaders and peers, they’re more likely to take risks, share new ideas, and speak up when they see something that isn’t working. Here are a few ways you can create a psychologically safe environment:
- Show vulnerability: Leaders set the tone for how open employees feel they can be. Share your successes and failures to encourage employees to do the same.
- Promote learning: Help employees see mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow. Encourage them to experiment and take risks without fear of retaliation.
There are many resources available with tips on how to create psychological safety in the workplace. The book “The Fearless Organization” by Amy Cuddy is a great place to start. It provides research-backed tips on building trust, fostering belonging, and boosting workplace engagement.
Respect Each Individual Team Member
Respecting each team member is essential to creating psychological safety at work. This environment can only be created when team members feel respected and valued for their contributions.
Managers can take a few key actions to show respect for their team members:
- Give everyone a voice by actively soliciting feedback and input on decisions.
- Demonstrate a willingness to take risks, encouraging openness to new ideas and offering support when things don’t go as planned.
Allow for Mistakes
Making mistakes is a part of life – there’s no way to avoid them. But in the workplace, people are often afraid to admit when they’ve made a mistake because they’re worried about being penalized or ridiculed by their boss or colleagues.
This fear of making mistakes can lead to a lack of psychological safety in the workplace. And the fact is that 27% of workers say that they don’t feel psychologically safe at their place of work.
Leaders must also provide employees with the resources they need to feel comfortable taking risks, including training on handling failure, access to mental health support, and opportunities for professional development.
Acknowledge Employee Wins
Acknowledging employee wins is a surefire way to create psychological safety in the workplace. It’s all about building trust and appreciation between employees and management. By publicly celebrating an employee’s success, you’re acknowledging their work and saying that you trust them to do great things.
When employees feel safe, they’re more likely to take risks and be creative and productive. So how can you go about implementing this at your company? Here are a few suggestions:
- Make a point of celebrating employee successes at team meetings or company-wide gatherings.
- Send out congratulatory emails or notes when an employee hits a significant milestone.
- Give employees public shout-outs on social media or in company newsletters.
- Feature employees in blog posts or case studies showcasing their successes.
By taking these simple steps, you can create a culture of acknowledgment and appreciation that will work wonders for your company’s psychological safety levels. And as a bonus, your employees will be more engaged and productive.
Be Open to New Ideas and Change
Being open to new ideas and change is essential for workplace psychological safety. When employees feel like they can suggest new ideas and speak up about changes they would like to see, it makes them feel more invested in their work and like their opinions matter. Creating psychological safety in the workplace leads to a more positive and productive work environment.
There are a few key actions that can help create this kind of environment:
- Model openness to new ideas and change.
- Encourage employees to share their thoughts and listen to feedback.
- Provide resources that support employee learning and growth.
How Can Mental Health Workplace Training help?
Mental health workplace training can help employees feel more comfortable talking about their mental health and seeking help when needed. This type of training can also help managers create a more psychologically safe environment for their team.
Some topics that could be covered in mental health workplace training include:
- How to have difficult conversations about mental health
- Creating a psychologically safe environment
- How to identify and support employees who may be struggling
- Mental health in the workplace: the legal landscape
Organize Mental Health Workplace Training Today
Mental health workplace training is essential for creating a safe and productive work environment. By providing employees with the tools and knowledge they need to identify and deal with mental health issues, managers can help keep their team healthy and happy.
In addition, mental health workplace training can also help employees understand their mental health and how to take care of themselves. The Mental Health Coach can provide this training for your team. We specialize in mental health workplace training and can tailor a program to fit your organization’s needs. Contact us today to learn more.