5.6 Psychological safety
Psychological safety is about individuals feeling empowered to share ideas and opinion without fear of reprisal, discrimination or humiliation. It’s a key aspect of a positive organisational culture and a key contributor to your workforce’s wellbeing.
Signs of a psychologically unsafe workplace include hesitance to speak openly and honestly, reluctance to admit to making mistakes and an overall air of low motivation. People can feel unsafe in any situation or working at any level – it’s not just an issue for staff in junior roles.
To achieve a psychologically safe working environment there needs to be trust between employees and managers, and between colleagues. Thecourse that is part of this collection explores in more detail how to develop that trust. The aspects of communication mentioned earlier in this section can contribute to the establishment of such trust, as can a good support network. Some organisations have wellbeing ambassadors to help with this.
As a manager or leader, when it comes to safety, don’t ask your team members to do anything that you wouldn’t do. Be mindful of their concerns and provide reassurance. Encourage participation and contribution from all team members.
It may seem paradoxical, but while you want people to feel able to speak freely, that doesn’t mean ‘anything goes’. It’s important that aggression, bullying and belittling behaviours are acknowledged and dealt with promptly.