March 10

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What Human Resources Professionals Need to Know About Psychological Safety

By Robert Grossman

March 10, 2022

Leadership, psychological Safety, teaming, Teamwork

Psychological Safety is a term used in the business world to describe an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas without fear of retribution. For businesses to be productive and creative, they must create a safe space for their employees. Unfortunately, many employers do not realize the importance of psychological safety and its impact on their bottom line.

In a study conducted by Harvard Business Review, it was found that when employees feel safe sharing their thoughts and ideas, they are 58% more likely to do so. Furthermore, when employees feel unsafe, they are 25% less likely to contribute creative ideas. When people feel unsafe, they become guarded and are less likely to take risks.

Psychological safety is crucial for creativity and productivity, but it is also essential for employee engagement. A study conducted by Gallup found that employees engaged in their work are three times more likely to stay with their organization than those not engaged. Furthermore, companies with high levels of employee engagement have profits that are 22% higher than companies with low levels of engagement.

Amy Edmonson, Ph.D., and Harvard Business School, Professor of Leadership and Management, says, “When a work environment has reasonably high psychological safety, good things happen – mistakes are reported quickly so that prompt corrective action can be taken; seamless coordination across groups or departments is enabled, and potentially game-changing ideas for innovation are shared. In short, psychological safety is a crucial source of value creation in organizations operating in a complex, changing environment”.

Now that we know the importance of psychological safety, let’s look at ways to create a safe and open environment for employees.

What is Psychological Safety?

Psychological Safety is an environment or culture where people can speak up and share their thoughts, feelings, and ideas without fear of being judged or punished. When psychological safety is present, “team members feel confident they will not be punished for speaking up about wrongdoing.” This environment fosters creativity, productivity, and engagement at work.

In a study of 4,000 employees, researchers found that psychological safety was the most critical factor in predicting employee engagement. They also found that when people feel unsafe, they are less likely to take risks and more likely to keep their thoughts and ideas to themselves.

Why Should Human Resource Professionals Care?

There are many reasons why Human Resource professionals should care about psychological safety. Some of the most important reasons are:

  • Psychological Safety is essential for creativity and productivity.
  • Psychological Safety is essential for employee engagement.
  • Psychological Safety can impact the bottom line.
  • Psychological Safety is vital in creating a positive work culture.
  • Psychological Safety can help reduce stress and improve mental health.
  • Psychological Safety can help reduce absenteeism and turnover.

Creativity and Productivity

When employees feel safe and comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas, they are more creative and productive. Psychological Safety allows employees to take risks, experiment with new ideas, and improve productivity and innovation.

Google is known for its creative and productive workplace culture. One of the reasons for this is their focus on measuring psychological safety. Google has a dedicated department called “Google People Operations,” which creates a safe and healthy work environment.

Employee Engagement

When employees feel safe and comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas, they are more likely to be engaged in their work. Psychological Safety allows employees to feel connected to their work and each other and can lead to increased productivity and a better work-life balance.

Southwest Airlines is known for its high employee engagement rates. One of the reasons for this is their focus on promoting psychological safety. Southwest Airlines has an “Open Communications policy,” which encourages employees to freely share their thoughts and ideas.

The Bottom Line

When employees feel safe and comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas, they can benefit from their creativity and productivity. In addition, positive work culture can lead to lower stress levels and better mental health. All of these factors can have a positive impact on the bottom line.

For example, Intel is known for its high employee retention rates. One of the reasons for this is their focus on psychological safety. Intel has a “Freedom to Speak Up policy,” which encourages employees to share their thoughts and ideas freely.

Positive Work Culture

When employees feel safe and comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas, it leads to positive work culture. Psychological Safety creates an open and psychologically safe environment where employees can be themselves. This can lead to increased morale and job satisfaction.

LinkedIn is known for its positive work culture. One of the reasons for this is their focus on improving psychological safety. LinkedIn has an “Open Door Policy,” which encourages employees to freely share their thoughts and ideas.

Reduced Stress Levels

When employees feel safe and comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas, it can reduce stress levels. Psychological Safety allows employees to feel supported and understood. This can lead to decreased stress levels and improved mental health.

Zappos is known for its relaxed and fun work environment. One of the reasons for this is their focus on fostering psychological safety. Zappos has a “Holacracy ” policy that encourages employees to freely share their thoughts and ideas.

Reduced Absenteeism and Turnover

When employees feel safe and comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas, it can reduce absenteeism and turnover. Psychological Safety allows employees to feel connected to their work and each other. This can lead to increased productivity and a better work-life balance.

For example, Valve is known for having a low turnover rate. One of the reasons for this is their focus on building psychological safety. Valve has a “No Jerks Policy,” which encourages employees to share their thoughts and ideas freely.

Psychological Safety is a critical aspect of the workplace and one that HUMAN RESOURCES professionals should be well-versed. Employers can encourage creativity, productivity, and engagement by creating a safe and open environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas.

How Can Human Resource Professionals Create a Psychologically Safe Environment?

There are several things Human Resource professionals can do to create a safe environment in their workplace. Some of these things include:

  • Establishing a policy of open communication: When employees feel safe and comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas, it leads to positive work culture.
  • Creating a policy of freedom to speak up: The “freedom to speak up policy ” should encourage employees to share their thoughts and ideas freely. This policy sends the message that the company values employee feedback.
  • Creating a policy of no judgment: The policy of “no judgment” should encourage employees to freely share their thoughts and ideas. Even if an employee’s idea is not implemented, they should not feel judged.
  • Encouraging employees to take breaks: When employees are stressed, they are less likely to be productive. Encouraging employees to take breaks can help them to relax and recharge.
  • Creating a safe environment online: The workplace is not the only place employees need to feel safe. Employees also need to feel safe when communicating online. Team leaders can help create a safe online environment by establishing a policy on acceptable behavior.
  • Encouraging employees to socialize: Socializing outside of work can help employees relieve stress and relax. Human Resource professionals can encourage employees to socialize by hosting social events outside of work.

These are just a few ways that Human Resource professionals can create a safe environment in their workplace. Employers can encourage creativity, productivity, and engagement by creating a safe and open environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas.

Human Resource Professionals should be well-versed in the concept of creating a psychologically safe work environment. By establishing policies that encourage employees to share their thoughts and ideas freely, Human Resource professionals can help to create a positive company culture.

Conclusion

Human Resource professionals are a vital part of creating safe and psychologically safe environments in the workplace. These experts can help create an encouraging work culture by establishing policies that encourage employees to share their thoughts and ideas freely.

If you’re looking to create a safe and open environment in your workplace, Black Diamond Leadership can help. Our team of experts can help you establish policies that encourage employees to share their thoughts and ideas freely. We can also help you create a positive work culture that will promote creativity, productivity, and engagement. To learn more about how we can help you improve psychological safety, schedule a complimentary call with one of our consultants.

FAQs

Why do we need psychological safety?

Psychological Safety is important because it allows employees to take risks and be creative. When employees feel safe and comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas, they are more likely to be productive and engaged.

Why is psychological safety important in the context of ethical decision-making?

Psychological safety is essential in the context of ethical decision-making because it allows employees to raise concerns without fear of retribution. When employees feel safe and comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas, they are more likely to make ethical decisions.

How does a lack of psychological safety affect employee performance?

When employees feel unsafe and uncomfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas, they are less likely to be productive and engaged. In addition, a lack of psychological safety can lead to employee burnout.

What is workplace psychological safety?

Workplace psychological safety is a term used to describe employees feeling safe and comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. When employees feel safe and comfortable sharing their thoughts, they are more likely to be productive and engaged.

What is employee psychological safety?

Employee psychological safety is a term used to describe an employee’s level of safety when sharing their thoughts and ideas with their employer. When employees feel safe and comfortable sharing their thoughts, they are more likely to be productive and engaged.

Robert Grossman

About the author

Robert S. Grossman is a business growth consultant, trainer/facilitator, coach and speaker with decades of experience. Having achieved success in both the corporate world and as an entrepreneur, Robert has helped hundreds of companies with high-performance strategic consulting, training and communications. He coaches business leaders, CEOs, presidents, entrepreneurs and sales professionals.

Robert brings 30 years of experience as a business owner, executive coach, Vistage chair and an award-winning communicator.

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