Four ways to improve psychological safety at work

Written by Liz Loxton Wednesday 21 September 2022
Raise awareness, create support groups, promote health and banish blame – some proven ways to help your people feel secure in their work
A metal brain laying next to a padlock

Back in 2014, a team of researchers at Google set out to uncover the common features of productive teams – the secret sauce of working together successfully. 

Three years of investigative work later, the researchers behind the now renowned Project Aristotle revealed their findings. What the high flyers had in common was a currency that businesses and managers now seek avidly: psychological safety. Why? Individuals in teams with more psychological safety are more likely to be more highly rated and harness the power of diverse ideas, as well as bring in more revenue and be less likely to leave.

According to Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson, who coined the phrase, “psychological safety” is a shared sense that a social group is conducive to “interpersonal risk-taking”; a safe place to speak one’s mind or make suggestions without fear of being rejected, embarrassed or punished for speaking up or failing. 

“Ultimately, it’s an environment where [employees] feel safe to be themselves, so they can flourish,” says Bruce Greenhalgh, senior wellbeing specialist at BT.

Watch this: Diversity and inclusion – Leadership beyond a pandemic

Environments where individuals share a high level of trust in each other and in their leaders can be said to have a good level of psychological safety. If that state seems difficult to quantify, there are hard measures that certainly indicate its absence. Long-term sick lists, grievances lists and retention rates all may provide clues.

Keep reading for four tips to improve psychological safety in your organisation


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