Why psychological safety is essential for organisational success
What is psychological safety?
Psychological safety is a term used in organizational psychology to describe a condition in which employees feel safe to speak up about their thoughts and feelings without fear of retribution. It is considered an essential element of a healthy workplace culture.
A psychologically safe workplace is one in which employees feel comfortable voicing their opinions and ideas, and feel confident that they will not be punished or retaliated against for doing so. It is a place where employees feel free to take risks and make mistakes, without fear of reprisal.
There are several factors that contribute to psychological safety in the workplace. The most important are trust, respect, and communication.
Trust is key, because employees need to feel that they can trust their colleagues to not retaliate against them for speaking up. Respect is also important, because employees need to feel that their colleagues respect their opinions and ideas. And communication is essential, because employees need to feel that they can communicate openly and candidly with their colleagues.
How does psychological safety affect organisation performance?
There is a large body of research that suggests that psychological safety is a key ingredient for high-performing organisations. In a study of nearly 200 Google employees, researchers found that psychological safety was the second-most important factor (after task mastery) in predicting individual employees’ satisfaction and motivation.
When employees feel safe to take risks and share their ideas, they are more likely to be creative and productive. In fact, psychological safety has been found to be a stronger predictor of innovation than employee engagement or job satisfaction.
High-performing organisations are also more likely to have cultures that emphasise learning and growth. In a study of nearly 1,000 managers, researchers found that the managers who scored highest on a measure of psychological safety were more likely to encourage their employees to learn and grow.
These organisations also tend to have less employee turnover. In a study of nearly 1,000 employees, researchers found that employees who felt psychologically safe were more likely to stay at their jobs for a longer period of time.
There are several mechanisms through which psychological safety can lead to better organisational performance. When employees feel safe to take risks and share their ideas, they are more likely to be creative and productive. Psychological safety also encourages employees to learn and grow, which can lead to improved job satisfaction and motivation. Additionally, employees who feel psychologically safe are more likely to stay at their jobs for a longer period of time, which can lead to reduced employee turnover.