Workplaces have evolved dramatically in the last few years, and today’s offices are almost unrecognisable compared to those from a mere decade ago. But it’s not just the office “look and feel” that’s evolving. Company cultures are shifting too, and a company’s culture has become so important, that many employees would be willing to take a salary cut to work somewhere with a non-toxic culture.

These are places that emphasise the psychological safety of all employees. Let’s take a look at what psychological safety is, why it’s important, the signs of a psychologically safe workplace, and common risk factors that could be hindering the psychological safety of your employees:

Definition of psychological safety

The Center for Creative Leadership provides a great description of psychological safety. It’s “the belief that you won’t be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes.” In a workplace context, psychological safety is “a shared belief held by members of a team that others on the team will not embarrass, reject, or punish them for speaking up.”

Why is it important in the workplace?

Managers need to place high importance on psychological safety for a number of reasons. When workers don’t feel comfortable enough to share and communicate openly, it can have knock-on negative impacts at every level of your organisation. The faster an issue can be flagged and jumped on, the faster it can be dealt with, and the fallout can be kept to a minimum. When employees don’t feel confident enough to flag issues as they arise, there’s no telling when these issues will come to light, and no telling how much damage they will cause.

Three signs of a psychologically safe work environment

  1. People are comfortable admitting mistakes
    When mistakes happen, and we know they will from time to time, team members feel comfortable enough to admit their mistakes instead of shifting blame.
  2. Team members are happy to learn from failures
    Failure is seen as an opportunity to learn and improve, not something to be ashamed of or hidden away from the rest of the team.
  3. There is open and constant sharing of ideas
    Team members from every level of the organisation feel that their opinions matter, and that their ideas are heard and taken seriously.

How does your organisation’s psychological safety compare to others?

Offering much more than just leadership coaching, Energy Alchemy helps you understand the hidden barriers holding back your people and your business. One way is through benchmarking your organisation using an employee engagement tool like WeThrive.

It provides 16 measures that indirectly give you the profile of where your psychological safety is in the organisation, allowing you to improve and track and benchmark against others. The sector comparison feature is getting more and more advanced with new data now, so we can help more businesses compare their organisational culture to the cultures of peers within their sector.

Contact Mark and the Energy Alchemy team to arrange a free WeThrive demo and to discuss your organisation’s specific goals and aspirations.