Psychological Safety

Did you know that only 35% of employees strongly agree that they can voice their opinions at work without fear of repercussion and only 53% feel they can take a risk? 

Being able to raise concerns, share differing perspectives and step outside of one’s comfort zone are core tenets of psychological safety, which is a vital component in creating a productive, positive workplace. Unfortunately, less than half of personnel report that they feel psychologically safe inside of their organisations.  

While many executives recognise the value of building a culture where staff can take calculated risks and share honest feedback, I’ve often found that it is sometimes challenging to take action. To influence change, it’s essential to first understand the holistic benefits psychological safety can offer. 

10 Reasons to Prioritise Psychological Safety 

#1 – Improves Efficiency and Productivity  

Imagine sitting in a team meeting, where the leader is discussing the implementation plan of an upcoming project. If people are hesitant to raise concerns, the group is unlikely to hear about potential roadblocks and may forge ahead with an incomplete or ill-advised strategy. In comparison, individuals who know they can share their opinions without fear will be more likely to voice the challenges they foresee, allowing the team to avoid issues before they arise and save valuable time 

#2 – Enhances Innovation 

Change is simply a part of business these days, and failing to innovate sets a dangerous precedent for companies. If the only thoughts that are heard in the workplace are ones that reinforce conventional beliefs or practises, it will be difficult to come up with new and novel approaches to advance the organisation. By embracing diverse perspectives and creating space for staff to share ideas, leaders can expect to see greater creativity by up to 20%. 

#3 – Encourages Constructive Tension 

Not all conflict is negative. Healthy debate is a useful step in vetting the best courses of action. In an environment where disagreement is met with frustration or hostility, conflict can quickly turn unproductive, leading to tensions within a team and poor work output. In a psychologically secure atmosphere, the opposite is true. Distinct perspectives are expected and welcomed. These differences in opinion are then less likely to be tense. Instead, they are seen as a positive part of the ideation and planning process. 

#4 – Stimulates a Learning Culture 

When people are encouraged to take risks and offer insights, it creates greater space for learning both for the individual and their colleagues. Personnel who know that it is OK to make a mistake are often more willing to stretch themselves and try new things. They even learn at a faster rate! By welcoming diverse perspectives, it further promotes personal and professional development across the workforce by exposing staff to new ideas, alternative approaches and diverse experiences.   

#5 – Inspires Resiliency 

With the rise of artificial intelligence, employees are being asked to embrace a great deal of change in the ways they work. A psychologically safe environment invites in risk-taking and experimentation, which will allow staff to better navigate these transformations with agility. Additionally, staff who have space to raise concerns authentically and without fear are likely to find a strong support network at work that can help them to bounce back in the face of adversity. 

#6 – Promotes Well-being 

Higher psychological safety is correlated with 74% less stress. Employees who are able to share their true opinions and feel valued for their perspectives tend to feel a greater sense of belonging in the workplace. With belonging comes enhanced physical and emotional health as well as lower rates of anxiety and depression. These benefits may seem concentrated at the individual level, and they also have a relationship with organisational performance as billions of dollars are lost to burnout every year. 

#7 – Supports Gen Z Integration 

This age cohort brings distinct expectations about their workplace experience. Specifically, Gen Z is seeking out companies where diversity, inclusion and authenticity are prioritised. They want to work in collaborative organisations where everyone’s voices are heard. Establishing a mentally and emotionally secure environment is an effective way to begin addressing some of these expectations and create a culture where staff deliver feedback and insights, knowing they will be treated with respect. 

#8 – Stimulates Joy  

We spend a great deal of time at our jobs, so it follows that most employees are looking for an environment where they will be appreciated, valued and satisfied. After all, who wants to be unhappy for 40 hours (and sometimes more!) every week? Creating a supportive space contributes to 76% more employee engagement and 29% greater life satisfaction. With greater engagement also comes improvements to other elements of workplace performance as I’ll share in my next two points. 

#9 – Increases Retention Rates 

Happy team members are more likely to stay at a company. Staff who feel psychologically safe are 5.5 times more satisfied with no plans to leave and 2.1 times more likely to recommend their employer to a friend. High retention rates help to ensure that corporations hold onto valuable institutional knowledge and skill sets. Additionally, low turnover influences the organisation’s bottom line given the high cost of losing personnel. 

#10 – Optimises Financial Returns 

The sum total of the benefits I’ve listed above not only impact the overall satisfaction of individuals and teams, they also impact the business. Improved well-being, better decision-making, amplified productivity, higher engagement and lower turnover all contribute to the financial health of a company. Moreover, healthy organisations are 2.2 more likely to surpass their financial targets than unhealthy ones. It truly pays off to prioritise psychological safety! 

While psychological safety may at first seem like a soft element of workplace culture, it’s quickly becoming an imperative for executives who want to hire and retain exceptional talent as well as cultivate a thriving, growth-oriented company. If you are inspired to take action to establish this sort of environment, I invite you to stay tuned for my next post, where I will share how you can get started. 

 Can’t wait for the next post? Discover how Emergenetics’ strengths-based tools can give you a common language to cultivate psychological safety. Explore our website or fill out the form below to speak with one of our team members today! 


Print This Post Print This Post