7th February 2024
Hilton London Canary Wharf
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Psychological safety at work: What is it and how can businesses improve it?

Coined by Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson, ‘psychological safety’ is the belief that you can share your thoughts and ideas freely within the workplace without the fear of being judged. Employees need to feel empowered to speak their minds in order to contribute their full potential. 

Without psychological safety, a workplace can foster a culture of fear, blame, and mistrust, which can lead to disengagement and low productivity. Therefore, if teams don’t feel comfortable challenging the status quo, then businesses may need to rethink their organisational styles. 

From improved innovation to reduced employee turnover, there are many benefits to fostering psychological safety at work. For example, when employees feel safe to share their ideas, they are more likely to come up with new and innovative solutions to problems.

Similarly, when employees are comfortable speaking their minds, communication between team members becomes more open and honest, leading to better collaboration and teamwork.

Psychological safety could be regarded as the bedrock of a thriving work culture. It fosters an atmosphere of trust, encouraging employees to take risks, voice their ideas, and admit mistakes without fear of retribution. 

This not only enhances creativity and innovation but also promotes learning and growth, driving team efficacy, productivity, and overall employee well-being.

It’s important to note that psychological safety is a team phenomenon and must be a mutual feeling across all employees. This means that employees in teams that work closely together are more likely to experience a similar level of psychological safety.

From providing adequate training to promoting healthy debates, FDM Group has offered businesses five tips to help ensure the psychological safety of their employees:

  1. Provide training to managers

Managers play a key role in creating a psychologically safe workplace, which means they must have the appropriate training in order to do so. Relevant training can provide managers with the necessary skills to create a positive workplace for each of their team members, such as active listening, empathy, and conflict resolution

  1. Encourage everyone to speak up

Encouraging everyone to speak up can create an atmosphere of trust and open communication. Managers should encourage team members to share their ideas and opinions by creating opportunities for everyone to contribute, such as regular team meetings and brainstorming sessions.

  1. Promote healthy debate

Healthy debate can lead to better decision-making and problem-solving. Managers should aim to encourage healthy debate by promoting respectful communication and creating a safe space for members to disagree without fear of retaliation or retribution. 

  1. Foster an inclusive work environment

Inclusion is critical to promoting psychological safety at work, and involves fostering a diverse and inclusive work culture. This could include providing training on unconscious bias or providing equal opportunities to all team members.

  1. Celebrate employee wins

Celebrating employee wins is a great way to create a positive workplace culture where team members feel valued and appreciated. Recognising and celebrating team members’ successes can also promote a sense of shared purpose and bring people together. Team members that feel appreciated may be more likely to share their ideas and knowledge with their colleagues.

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