Tommy Associates Pty Ltd
Tommy Logo

Psychological Safety In The Workplace


Psychological Safety In The Workplace

Do your employees participate freely in group discussions? Do they speak up without the fear of being knocked or dismissed? If not, you may have low psychological safety in the office. 🏢  

Workplace psychological safety is critical to employee happiness and well-being. If employees feel free to stand up for themselves, raise issues, and communicate comfortably with their peers and management, their overall motivation and happiness at work will improve. 😁

Do you want to know more? 🤷‍♀️In this blog, we’ll look at psychological safety in more detail and how to enhance it in the workplace. 

Let’s get into it.

What is Psychological Safety?

Psychological safety is the feeling of being able to express your concerns, doubts, or issues without the fear of negative consequences. 👎

Psychological safety at work means creating an environment where employees feel free to voice their opinions freely and communicate their ideas. 🤝

Harvard Business Review defined psychological safety as “the belief that you won’t be punished when you make a mistake”. The importance of psychological safety in the workplace is high, as creating a judgment-free zone for employees is essential.


Source Niagara Institute.

With psychological safety, employee engagement will soar, and team performance will increase. This could also lead to an increase in employee attendance due to heightened productivity.📈

Generally speaking, people who are in a state of psychological safety are most likely to:

  • Achieve Excellent Work Outputs. Employees who feel psychologically safe allow themselves to be the best that they can be. 🤩
  • Collaborate In Teams. Psychologically safe people work well in teams since they are not afraid to share new ideas that they think would help. 🤝‍
  • Enhance Learning And Creativity Skills. People are more likely to enjoy learning and absorb everything taught to them when they feel relaxed. If no threats are lingering around, creativity blooms among those with imaginative minds. 🤯

The Four Stages Of Psychological Safety🧠

It’s not easy to establish a psychologically safe environment for all employees. According to Dr. Timothy Clark, an Oxford-trained social scientist, organizational consultant, and author of The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety, there are four steps. 

These steps are what people have to undergo before they can become confident expressing their opinions or suggestions: 

  • Inclusion Safety

According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, one of the essential needs of people is acceptance. This is the stage where an individual establishes themselves alongside co-workers. 👬

The main challenge in this stage is to equalize all opportunities, even to those newly acquired employees, so that they won’t be feeling any prejudice.

  • Learner’s Safety

When we learn something, we tend to leave our comfort zones and exert constant effort to understand new things. Employees need to feel safe in the workplace as a learning environment where questions will need to be asked, and mistakes or misunderstandings will be likely. 📝

  • Contributor Safety

This stage is when an individual feels the importance of contributing to the organization by using the skills they learn and gain from the second stage. Often, this is where employees get frustrated if they fail or are not given the opportunity to contribute. 🗣

  • Challenger Safety

This is the last stage and the most difficult to overpower because it entails considerable trust and confidence. In this stage, people should be confident in challenging the existing rules and solutions by proposing the alternatives they think would benefit the company most.

Constantly remind employees that constructive criticisms are the backbone of their job integrity, and this will help create a psychologically safe workplace. 🤝

Importance of Psychological Safety

Psychological safety is essential for a productive and motivated workplace. If employees feel comfortable and able to contribute, your business will thrive.


Source: Gallup

By creating psychological safety in the workplace, you’ll open up the possibilities of uncovering new ideas, opinions, or thoughts that encourage the business to succeed. 

Psychological safety has many positive impacts in the workplace, such as:

  • Higher productivity rate
  • More creativity / innovative thinking
  • Lower employee churn
  • Improved camaraderie
  • Integrate trust among employees at all levels
  • Motivates employees

When a workplace is psychologically safe, people are the most creative and confident version of themselves.💭 

Tips To Enhance Psychological Safety In The Workplace

How do you enhance psychological safety in the workplace? With intentional effort and commitment, you can transform your business into a safe environment where employees feel supported. 

Interpersonal risk in the workplace refers to the potential for negative backlash from raising an opinion. To remove this and create a positive environment, psychological safety in the workplace is essential.

Here are some ways to increase psychological safety in the workplace:

1. Pay Attention🤔

Paying attention is vital for improving the psychological safety of your employees. Being an active listener is essential.👂Ask your employees questions, give them eye contact, and show engagement as they express themselves.

Nowadays, a lot of meetings and interactions are held online. During or after an online meeting, you can pay attention and show interest by sending them private emails to discuss their ideas.

2. Show Understanding and Recognize Efforts🤗

If you belittle an idea or shut it down before acknowledging it or understanding it, you’ll fail to build psychological safety. 

Recognizing efforts is essential for employee well-being. If an employee feels valued at work, they’re more likely to participate and suggest ideas. 

According to LinkedIn, “69% of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized.” By showing understanding and recognizing employee efforts, you’ll increase motivation as well as psychological safety. 

You could ask your employees more about their opinions by asking them to explain their thoughts further. Showing them your willingness to commit to their idea could make them feel that their suggestion is bringing value to the company.👥

In a virtual environment, you could also show your understanding to your employees by giving them time to elaborate their ideas further. 👨‍💻


Source: LinkedIn 

3. Avoid Pointing Fingers👆

Psychological safety involves creating a safe space free of judgment, ridicule, and embarrassment. Discouraging people in a workplace from pointing fingers and blaming others for mistakes will help to increase positivity and employee satisfaction.

Mistakes are inevitable, but there are effective ways to deal with them. Encourage people to learn from their mistakes positively, and constructive criticism is often more useful. 92% of respondents agreed that “negative (redirecting) feedback, if delivered appropriately, is effective at improving performance”, according to Linkedin.


Source: LinkedIn

4. Incorporate Team Building👷‍♂️

A great way to promote psychological safety at work is by introducing team-building exercises into the workforce. These activities are great for building connections amongst employees and will help to connect them on a more supportive level.

“75% of staff say teamwork and collaboration are crucial to corporate success”, according to TeamSage. If your team and workforce feel comfortable with each other, trust will grow, and the space for people’s voices and ideas will expand.

5. Don't Forget The Reward⭐️

Aim to clearly define that you’re pleased to hear different suggestions and opinions and give rewards or incentives to those employees taking the initial step. 

Use a proper reward system to motivate employees and set up a psychologically safe environment where employees can share or rectify ideas without fear of being ridiculed.


Source: Indeed

By creating a psychologically safe environment, your employees will feel comfortable expressing their thoughts, opinions, and ideas. By following these tips, you can create a productive workspace where open communication is encouraged and accepted.🤩