Transforming Culture: The Key to Psychological Safety

Have you ever silently questioned your boss's decisions but chose to keep your thoughts to yourself? In many organizations, people feel unsafe to speak up due to the prevailing culture. Unfortunately, this can lead to serious consequences. What if your input could have prevented a mistake or inspired your boss to find a new solution? When employees don't feel safe to speak up or take risks, it can result in preventable errors, missed opportunities, and a lack of new and innovative ideas. This hesitance to share his concerns and ideas often comes from not feeling psychologically safe, which is really important for creating a productive and innovative work environment.


What is Psychological Safety?

Imagine a workplace where everyone feels comfortable to speak up, share new ideas, and even admit mistakes without fear of negative consequences. That’s what psychological safety is all about! It’s about creating an environment where people feel secure enough to take risks, disagree openly, and raise concerns. When your team feels safe, they’re more likely to provide honest feedback, including constructive criticism, and bring their best, most creative selves to work every day.

The Benefits of Psychological Safety

Psychological safety is not just a nice-to-have; it is a must-have for a thriving workplace. Although there are many articles out there regarding the benefits of psychological safety, we wanted to find out for ourselves. Therefore, we decided to add psychological safety to our 2024 Employee Experience research under Dutch employees and test what the effect of psychological safety is on the employee experience. We found that psychological safety:

  • Improved eNPS Scores: Want a higher Employer Net Promoter Score? Workplaces with high psychological safety score a solid 71, compared to 48 where safety is low.
  • Boosted Employee Engagement: In workplaces with high psychological safety, 25% of employees are highly engaged compared to just 10% in less safe environments. Plus, only 13% are disengaged in safe workplaces, whereas a whopping 33% feel disengaged where psychological safety is lacking.
  • Increased Employee Retention: High psychological safety means keeping your talents. Only 20% of employees who experience high psychological safety want to switch jobs, compared to 40% in places where psychological safety is low.
  • Skyrocketed Productivity: Employees in high psychological safety environments report being highly productive at a rate of 67%, compared to only 46% in low safety settings.
  • Reduced Stress Levels: High psychological safety dramatically lowers stress. 36% of employees who experience high psychologically safe have lower stress levels, while only 12% feel this way in low psychological safety workplaces.

How to Create a Psychologically Safe culture

Ready to transform your workplace? Here are some actionable steps to get you started:

  • Embrace a Team Growth Mindset: Ditch the internal competition! Foster a culture of collaboration where everyone celebrates each other’s successes. Ensure equal opportunities for all team members and watch your team thrive.
  • Flatten Hierarchies: Break down those unnecessary chains-of-command. Encourage open communication from front-line workers to upper management, making everyone feel heard and valued.
  • Prioritize DE&I: Members of social identity groups that are often marginalized by society may find it particularly challenging to feel a high level of psychological safety in the workplace. For example, many employees of color feel like they have to act more Caucasian to fit in, meaning that they can’t properly be themselves. Make sure all team members feel included and safe. Tailor your efforts to ensure that everyone can bring their authentic selves to work.
  • Create Feedback Opportunities: Don’t wait for feedback to come to you. Regularly schedule feedback sessions to normalize sharing thoughts and concerns. This helps everyone feel more comfortable speaking up.
  • Show Appreciation: Genuine appreciation goes a long way. Recognize your team’s hard work and unique skills. Celebrate successes and build a positive, supportive culture.
  • Turn Mistakes into Lessons: Encourage learning from mistakes. Incorporate “lessons learned” sessions into your projects to help your team grow and innovate.
  • Applaud Risk-Taking: Encourage your team to take thoughtful risks. When leaders model and celebrate risk-taking, it sets a tone that supports creativity and innovation.

As a leader, you have the power to make or break psychological safety in your workplace. Be transparent, approachable, and supportive. Your actions set the tone for your team, so lead by example and foster an environment where everyone feels safe and valued.


Want to know more?

Want to find out how psychologically safe your employees feel? Or do you want to get advice on how to improve psychological safety in your organisation? Then feel free to contact Niek Klaver for a free consultation.

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