Top 10 Ways To Create Psychological Safety In The Workplace

Top 10 Ways To Create Psychological Safety In The Workplace

The average adult spends roughly 2,000 hours every year at work.

Therefore, employees must feel safe, respected, accepted, and happy while at work. Yet, in many workplace environments, this is not the case.

When employees don’t feel safe, they shun away from taking risks, suggesting different ideas, and solutions to improve things. But if voicing out their agendas generates a sense of fear and danger, most individuals will think twice. This significantly slows down the development and growth of the team, company, and individual.

Therefore, every organization should actively create and facilitate a psychologically safe working environment.

What Is Psychological Safety?

Psychological safety is a belief that an employee will not be punished or victimized for voicing their ideas, questions, concerns and mistakes.

In essence, it refers to working in a safe environment where the employees feel secure enough to share their ideas and thoughts freely without worrying about any adverse reactions.

According to Professor Amy Edmondson of Harvard Business School, psychological safety significantly impacts teamwork, and consequently, the organization’s performance.

In our knowledgeable and competitive economy, the ideas our employees bring to the table matter a lot in adding value and growth. Thus, creating a fertile ground for the employees through mutual trust and respect enables them to take risks and experiment, thus enhancing their engagement and performance.

How To Create Psychological Safety In The Workplace

1.Promote Self-Awareness

Self-awareness can be defined as a conscious, deliberate introspection to understand our experiences, emotions, and thoughts as others see us.

For example, a manager should operate from the employee’s point of view but not their own, by soliciting ideas and asking others to brainstorm for the solution. This creates a space for dialogue and open communication, enabling a leader to understand the employee point of view.

Additionally, self-awareness enriches empathy, emotional intelligence, listening skills, and improved critical-thinking while strengthening relationships and communication, thus rendering your team better workers. As such, a company that promotes self-awareness enriches employee’s communication, productivity, trust, and engagement culture.

2.Extend And Earn The Trust

As the person in charge, learn to build mutual trust and offer it to others. This way, you increase the possibility of individuals being themselves, thus providing solutions to problems.

When an employee makes a mistake, it’s easy for blame games to start. But for an organization to build and maintain a strong psychological safety, there needs to be a supportive and authentic way of dealing with the mistakes.

For example, instead of asking “Who did this,” use collaborative language and ask,”How do we avert this from recurring in the future?” The “we” statement will turn the mistake into a group responsibility without having to single out an individual, thus extending the power of team climate into interpersonal trust. Trust is a critical requirement for building a perfect team.

You can also ask the advice of professionals like the New Jersey employment experts, on how  you can devise practical ways of building mutual trust and respect.

3.Welcome Curiosity

A psychologically safe working environment should have a proper corporate culture that encourages and welcomes curiosity as a channel for improving creativity, making the team agile and adaptive to challenges.

Besides, curiosity makes employees align with others on communication and project engagement, promoting the culture of inquiry and learning regardless of risks, disagreement and uncertainty.

4.Grant Employees A Voice

Placing infrastructure and rules that limit your employee from voicing their mind is detrimental to psychological safety and affects productivity.

To overcome this, encourage conversation, create a question and answer time, provide feedback channels for everyone, and craft a liberal way of speaking with leadership.

Encouraging upward communication is a vital way of identifying opportunities or problems, getting solutions, and offering different ideas to improve an organization’s well-being.

5.Promote Cultural Diversity

A diverse workplace employs people from different backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses, races, ages, genders, abilities, and religions.

Promoting cultural diversity ensures a diverse range of opinions, perspectives, personal experiences and circumstances, contributes to the knowledge, ideas and skills to the benefit of the company.

A culturally diverse workplace promotes a feeling of “all are welcome”, which goes a long way in fostering psychological safety.

To do this, set up networks that promote greater cultural inclusion, actively recruit from a wider pool and promote respect for all employees.

6.Acknowledge Your Mistakes

Nobody is infallible, and it is okay to make mistakes, but admitting them and asking for assistance from your team members cultivates courage, personal growth and credibility.

Likewise, it encourages your workmates to speak up and look for solutions after making a mistake.

Create a culture for individuals to actively embrace mistakes without being judged. This promotes psychological safety and a chance to express views while providing a platform for openness, integrity, decisiveness, truthfulness, and quick correction for a successful company.

7.Express Appreciation

Expressing appreciation brings out a sense of belonging and happiness, which makes the employees more engaged and productive.

Praising your teammates for their effort, regardless of the ending, helps them participate in other projects without fear of failure.

Appreciation may range from a modest ‘thank you’ to elaborate bonuses or celebrations.

Appreciation leads to more engagement, increased job satisfaction, strengthens relationships, and increases prosocial behaviors.

8.Celebrate Individualism

Everyone is different, and it’s something to be recognized, celebrated, and valued at the workplace.

Each individual has their personality, natural traits, talents, experiences and temperament, which reflects their attitude and approach towards work.

When leaders celebrate their employee’s unique skills and traits, it promotes their ability to embrace creative thinking and problem-solving. Furthermore, it creates better collaboration, employee satisfaction, and better performance.

To do this, embrace the power of personalization by allowing simple things like individual cubicle/workspace furnishing.

9.Encourage Risk-Taking

No organization encourages reckless behavior. But the inability by employers to accept a measured degree of risk-taking and potential for failure, means the organization is quashing an innovation mindset.

An emotionally safe working environment encourages calculated risk-taking, regardless of the outcome. In an economy where everything is centered on information, understanding that mistakes will occur and then embracing the outcome as a learning process towards a future successful outcome.

Risk-taking produces numerous psychological safety benefits like

  • Developing a sense of accomplishment and pride
  • Growing new skills and building confidence
  • Spurring creativity that raises unforeseen opportunities
  • Developing emotional resilience making employees feel happy and engaged.

10.Promote Positive Discussion And Dialogue

Encourage your employees to embrace positivity and shun away from negativity to inspire honest conversations.

In case a team member speaks negatively about others, stop it. Be clear that to work together, petty gossip won’t be tolerated. When negativity takes hold in an office, it becomes contagious and is a psychological safety killer.

Negativity creates division since employees may think it’s right to backbite and that others are backbiting them. In either case, it thwarts productivity and teamwork.

Equally, be open to feedback and use affirmative language like replacing “can’t with “have not yet” or a “challenging idea”  with “prospect idea”. Such simple words help your employees embrace positive mindsets, thus empowering them to speak up and voice their thoughts without fear.

The Bottom Line

As a leader, the environment you foster in your team can make or break your employee’s engagement and achievement. Creating a social climate and a workplace that fosters psychological safety is the primary key to building high-performing and productive teams. The above ten strategies are a good start in creating a fearless environment to share their concerns, learn, and bring forth ideas that spark team performance.

Author: Rita Purity