Business leaders all over the world constantly seek different ways to grow their business and have an adaptable, high-performing team — which is very important during this uncertain time. They push their employees to innovate, present them with different challenges, and expect them to exceed expectations.
However, this can only be achieved when the company and the leaders provide a positive and psychologically safe work environment for their employees.
9 Reasons Why Psychological Safety in Workplace Matters
According to Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson, psychological safety is “a shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking”.
When employees feel comfortable sharing suggestions, asking for help, or challenging the status quo without negative social consequences, companies can be more efficient, innovative, and adaptable — which is key to surviving and thriving in times of crisis.
Here are 9 reasons why establishing a climate of psychological safety is important for organizations.
1. Enhances employee engagement
Your employees will be more likely to participate in meetings, projects, and engage with customers and peers when they feel safe at work. They will no longer doze off or count the hours until the workday is over because they feel inspired to be fully present at work.
2. Encourage creativity, ideas, and innovation
When employees feel comfortable expressing their ideas during meetings or discussions, they can provide you with more innovative and creative ideas that can help you solve problems and level up your business.
3. Fosters an inclusive workplace culture
If you want to have a solid, high-performing team, it’s important to make everyone feel included. A safe workplace will embrace employees regardless of their race, gender, or background — fostering inclusivity. Having an inclusive workplace will improve employee well-being and engagement, reduce employee turnover, and most importantly, drive creativity and innovation.
4. Create a learning culture
It’s important that employees feel safe to take risks and make mistakes because that is how everyone can learn and improve. Doing this will foster a learning culture that will inspire everyone on the team, including the leaders, to be brave enough to innovate yet humble enough to admit their mistakes and figure out how to do better in the future.
5. Improves efficiency
When employees feel comfortable enough to ask questions and ask for help, they can do their job better. They won’t have to waste time on assumptions and making mistakes. With the right guidance and without the fear of negativity, they can do their job more effectively and efficiently.
6. Improves employee wellbeing
Mental health contributes to the overall well-being and performance of your employees. That is why leaders have to provide a mentally healthy and psychologically safe work environment so they can perform optimally — especially in today’s rapidly changing environment.
7. Reduces employee turnover
Employees who feel valued and safe are less likely to leave a company. By providing a safe and positive workplace, you can avoid wasting time and resources on finding, hiring, and training new employees.
8. Creates brand ambassadors
When you feel like your company is treating you right and you enjoy working there, won’t you share it with your friends and family? Taking care of your employees’ well being will increase their loyalty and turn them into brand ambassadors of your company — attracting more customers and talent for your business.
9. Boosts overall performance
When you combine all of the above, you will get loyal employees who will actively contribute creative ideas, become an ambassador to your brand, and care about the success of the company as a whole. They will feel inspired to work together and help the company grow.
How leadership coaches can help promote psychological safety in the workplace
As coaches, we also play a role in promoting psychological safety in the workplace. Here’s how we can help leaders foster a positive and safe work environment that can help them improve employee wellbeing and business performance.
1. Help leaders understand their role
Culture starts with the leader. They are the catalysts who can set the right environment, mindset, and behavior that is needed to build a positive work environment that will allow their team to grow.
2. Promote consultative and supportive leadership
During the pandemic, there has been a shift from the traditional authoritative leadership to a more consultative and supportive leadership that promotes psychological safety.
This type of leadership requires leaders to be open to input, give credit to the team, and show concern about the team’s well-being (both mental and physical). When coaching our leaders, help them see the value of these behaviors so they can make a habit out of them and spark a chain reaction within the organization.
3. Utilize feedforward
As the coach, you can teach the leaders and the stakeholders in the company how to do the feedforward exercise. Feedforward can be a great way to cultivate a culture of openness and positivity. Since the whole focus of feedforward is helping each other with future-oriented solutions, people will find it easier to receive and provide feedback.
And the most important thing is to review and find other areas of improvement that can help leaders cultivate a positive and psychologically safe work environment.