Learn how diversity, inclusion, well-being, and engagement strategies are needed to form the basis of a strong psychological contract between employees and organizations. When employees feel safe and supported, organisations can be more adaptive, fair, equitable, and open to the wide range of needs employees have.
- When we talk about psychological safety, what do we mean and what are its impacts? We know all about healthy, safe workplaces, like wearing protective clothing when using hazardous materials or a well-ventilated factory or good lighting in an office. But what about workplaces that appear healthy but are challenging or even traumatic? By challenging, we mean based on how we behave with each other making things psychologically unsafe. Psychological safety was coined by Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmonson, who has researched and written about this concept for over 20 years, resulting in her book The Fearless Organization. Put simply, it is our belief that "We will not be punished or humiliated "for speaking up with ideas, questions, "concerns, or about mistakes." Things like being open and honest with each other. Being able to trust your team and managers. Being able to learn through mistakes that are not punished by others, but that people help you put things right without being harsh on you. Mistakes aren't always down to carelessness or neglect, but perhaps misunderstanding or even a bad process. Union or formal workplace representation can significantly add to psychological safety because in such environments, people feel free to speak up to their colleagues knowing there will be an acknowledgment and more procedural rights in that situation. Employees also know that there will perhaps be an additional representation of an issue they feel vulnerable about. If you can raise an important issue with anyone in the company, that is a psychologically safe place. If you feel vulnerable about raising an issue, that is an unsafe environment. They may even feel that raising an issue would single them out and they would be looked at as a troublemaker. Leaders need to focus on creating a climate of safety and inclusion and help employees feel safe to speak out. So they need to first, allow people to admit to mistakes. Instead of blame and punishment, they can focus on recover, repair and learning. Next, encourage and even formalize ideas and improvements and new ways of doing things like serving customers or helping colleagues. And finally, look at decision making across the company and how transparent that is. The more secretive decision making is, the less understanding people have and the less safe they'll feel about decisions. All of this can be done without revealing trade secrets. Psychological safety can be a hard concept to grasp until we're in a situation where we might feel suddenly vulnerable about speaking up. We may not appreciate things aren't as safe as they seem. Formal employee representative groups can help by creating confidential support and then representing people who feel a sense of fear in raising something important. For example, someone being victimized or bullied by another team member. A psychologically safe organization will use its employee relations policies and processes to enhance the feeling of trust and overcome the challenges of a demanding modern world of work.
Note: This course is the first in a LinkedIn Learning series aligned with the “People Practice” core knowledge area of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).