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How to Foster Psychological Safety in the Workplace

Updated: Jan 30

A group of five employees around a table smiling in a psychologically safe workplace

There are many different factors that candidates and employees consider when describing an ideal workplace. These might include the company location, benefits and salary, and of course, workplace culture. Workers want to do their jobs in an environment where they feel valued and respected, and this is especially important when it comes to their psychological well-being. According to APA’s 2023 Work in America Survey, 92% of workers said it is very (57%) or somewhat (35%) important to them to work for an organization that values their emotional and psychological well-being.

In an evolving modern workplace, it is becoming increasingly important for organizations to make sure that they are fostering a psychologically safe work environment for their employees. Keep reading to learn more about what exactly psychological safety is and how to best implement it in the workplace. 

What is psychological safety?

The concept of psychological safety was popularized by Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson in her book The Fearless Organization. Psychological safety refers to the shared belief that it is okay to take risks, share ideas, and admit mistakes without fear of negative consequences. In a psychologically safe workplace, employees feel comfortable and secure with the idea of speaking their minds, and they do not need to worry about any sort of punishment or embarrassment. 

Why is psychological safety important?

Psychological safety is great for business and also for the well-being of employees for many reasons. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of a psychologically safe workplace:

  • Enhanced team performance: When employees feel psychologically safe, they are more likely to express their thoughts, share ideas, and collaborate with their colleagues. They become more motivated, engaged, and feel like their contributions matter to others. This creates a sense of trust between employees, leading to a more improved team performance. 

  • Culture of learning: Psychological safety fosters a culture of learning and improvement in an organization. If employees feel more comfortable in sharing their mistakes, then everyone else can learn from them and prevent them from happening again in the future.

  • Innovation & creativity: Many individuals have kept their ideas to themselves at work at one time or another. Psychological safety in the workplace leads to employees feeling more comfortable and welcome to share their ideas and opinions, bringing many diverse perspectives to the table. 

  • Employee well-being: A lack of psychological safety in the workplace can lead to negative effects on employee well-being, including stress and burnout. When employees feel comfortable in their environment and welcome to express concerns and seek help, there is a more positive impact on mental health. This also improves job satisfaction and employee retention

How do you create psychological safety at work?

There are many great strategies to use to foster psychological safety in the workplace. These might include:

  • Encouraging open communication between team members and ensuring the knowledge that employees’ ideas and opinions are being listened to

  • Showing appreciation and respect for employees when they share their perspectives and recognizing any achievements

  • Establishing clear expectations to create a sense of predictability and fairness

Professor Edmondson also pointed out these additional tactics through her research on psychological safety:

  • Set the stage for employees to speak up: There are many individuals that find it more safe to keep their opinions to themselves for fear of judgment or rejection. It is crucial to explain to employees why their voice matters and how it will affect work outcomes. Appeal to their motivations and unite team members under a common goal to encourage a safe and collaborative environment. 

  • Request input: Even after telling employees why their opinions matter, they may still not feel comfortable in sharing them right away. If they feel that their ideas are contradictory to another’s or that they are too different, they might not wish to contribute to the conversation. Actively asking for an employee’s ideas is important in ensuring psychological safety. 

  • Respond proactively: Always respond to opinions and feedback with appreciation and respect. If employees feel that their ideas are being shut down, they are less likely to want to share more in the future. While all ideas shared might not be used in practice, it is still important for employees to know that their voices are heard and welcome. 

Psychological safety is a fundamental element for creating a healthy, productive, and innovative work environment. As the workplace continues to evolve, fostering psychological safety is an important strategic imperative for any forward-thinking organization.



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