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What constitutes a psychologically safe workplace?

How can toxic workplaces begin to turn around their current conditions to create a more psychologically safe work environment?

Maintaining a good workplace over time is not easy. The variables that determine whether a workplace is considered good depend on the personal experiences of its workers – those variables are not static and depend on various factors that change over time.
In this analysis, psychological safety is the variable that will be considered. It is directly related to the level of trust within an organization. Therefore, though trust is not guaranteed as a result, psychological safety must be built and maintained to increase the likelihood of a high level of trust.

What is a psychologically safe workplace?

We can define psychological safety in the workplace as a state in which people feel safe to express their ideas or opinions or make mistakes without feeling that they will be judged for doing so.

Why is it essential to promote psychological safety at work, and what benefits does it have?

Having a psychologically safe workplace is a critical mission that companies should have. It generates significant benefits for them and their employees. Employees are the ones that make the organization work. They are often the face of the company to customers, and the success or failure of the business depends primarily on them. By investing in its people, a company is investing in its future. A starting point in this investment is to reach psychological safety at work.

The fundamental basis for achieving this psychologically safe workplace begins by building trust between organization members, starting with leaders. Building trust is a mission the leaders should develop to create more positive relationships. To build trust, a leader must stay in touch with the problems and concerns of his team. This way, he will encourage communication, and workers will speak openly to him when needed. The result will be less stressed and more confident people. This will translate into happier employees with lower absenteeism rates and higher productivity.
As a result, the generation of new ideas will impact innovation for the organization, creating new products or projects to increase the benefits. So, overall, the organization will work better.

What could we do to guarantee this psychological safety in the workplace?

The way forward to ensure this psychological safety in the workplace involves a series of initiatives. These must be implemented within the organization as a starting point to promote psychological security. Why not ensure that psychological safety is a guarantee for all?

One of the first steps would be to establish it in the workplace as a priority. This concept is still unknown to many people. Being something achieved through interaction between the members who work there, making this concept known is necessary. Since there are no second chances to
make a first impression, talking about safety from the induction day of an employee could mark the starting point.

Make it easy for everyone to speak up and expose their ideas openly. The leaders should initially promote this to set an example to be followed by the rest of the organisation’s members.

Then, show interest in each of the ideas presented by the organisation’s members and receive them to boost personal and business growth.
Like Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher said:

“change is the only constant in life.”

Therefore, creating a space to present new ideas without judging or humiliating those who raise them is vital. Having the freedom to talk about them openly, even if they seem too risky or wild, is crucial to creating psychologically safe environments, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace. At the same time, that leads to companies generating innovation and developing new projects and products that
can make them grow.

Promote dialogue when discrepancies, conflicts, or mistakes arise in the organization. A process must be established to make this communication respectful while still expressing our opinions. This is the way to learn and resolve conflicts productively.

The most important initiative that we could implement within our company would be to promote a coaching culture to encourage psychological safety at work. Currently, this concept is widely used within organizations. In addition, coaching is a tool for the organization to perform better in general, especially in problem-solving.

Organizations are looking for ways to maximize their results in a globalized world, and coaching is an excellent way to show them the way. Through coaching, it is possible to guide workers and leaders to create those conditions that guarantee success.
In these circumstances, coaching must be considered an organizational competence and an attribute relevant to culture rather than a specific and isolated practice, strictly linked to organizational change management initiatives inherent to business transformation projects.

Implementing this coaching culture will bring many benefits since we will learn to see situations differently. In addition, we will learn to eliminate the subjective and the prejudices that may arise at certain times, creating a psychologically safe work environment.

Psychological safety reflects nothing more than the culture and climate within an organization, which does not seem easy to change. However, it is vitally important to do so since this will bring us great rewards and because it is just a human thing to do.

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