April 2024

Understanding Psychological Safety in Your Workplace

Understanding Psychological Safety in Your Workplace

It’s widely acknowledged that all companies share a fundamental reliance on their people for success. Individual employees and teams alike depend on psychological safety to excel and grow within their workplaces.

Understanding and nurturing psychological safety within your organisation is imperative to improve the wellbeing and efficiencies of your people, thereby improving the overall success of your organisation.

What is Psychological Safety in the Workplace?

Psychological safety is the belief by team members that the work environment is safe for interpersonal risk taking. Essentially, a psychologically safe workplace is a workplace where every individual feels valued, respected, and empowered to express their thoughts and ideas openly, knowing they won’t face ridicule or retribution. It can be described as a culture where team members feel secure enough to take risks, challenge the status quo, and innovate without fear of judgment or punishment.

Why is Psychological Safety so important you and your employees?

Psychological safety is integral to employee wellbeing and organisational success on multiple fronts. Key elements that employees desire in their workplace include engaging tasks, opportunities for growth, and a supportive environment where they can thrive and develop professionally. All of these elements are underpinned by psychological safety. When employees feel psychologically safe, they are more willing to take risks, pursue professional development opportunities, and positively contribute to the success of the business. Moreover, psychological safety fosters a culture of openness where problems are identified and addressed promptly, preventing potential mistakes, and ensuring continuous improvement. In a psychologically safe environment, team members feel comfortable speaking up about issues, allowing businesses to take proactive action and avoid costly disruptions. Ultimately, prioritising psychological safety not only enhances employee wellbeing but also drives organisational success.

Overcoming Common Misconceptions

Having a psychologically safe workplace is not about avoiding conflict or sugar-coating feedback. It’s about fostering a culture where constructive dialogue can be carried out in a productive and respectful way. While leadership plays a crucial role in this, psychological safety is a collective responsibility that extends to every member of the organisation. The actions and behaviours of management and team leaders set the tone for the entire workplace culture, serving as an example for others and influencing how psychological safety is perceived and practiced throughout the workplace.

Implementing Strategies for Success

Before executing any plans to improve your workplace psychological safety, we always recommend that the current state be measured upfront. This can be done during your annual employee engagement surveys, or qualified third-party surveys. Once you have an idea of where your business is currently at, you can start to implement the below strategies to improve:

  • Set the Stage: Clearly communicate the purpose and vision of your organisation, emphasising the importance of collaboration and mutual respect. Encourage a growth mindset by reframing failure as an opportunity for learning and improvement. Additionally, emphasize the importance in your team’s projects and initiatives, highlighting the significance of their contributions.
  • Inviting Participation: Lead by example by demonstrating humility and vulnerability in your interactions with your team. Encourage open communication by asking thoughtful, open-ended questions and always actively listening to your team members’ perspectives, but particularly regarding potentially negative issues or areas of conflict. Establish structures and channels for soliciting feedback and ideas, ensuring that every voice is heard and valued.
  • Responding Productively: Express genuine appreciation for your team members’ contributions, regardless of the outcome. Destigmatise failure by reframing it as a natural part of the learning process and an opportunity for growth. Maintain clear boundaries around conduct and accountability, addressing inappropriate behaviour promptly, but respectfully.

Regularly measure your progress

As with anything to do with your organisation and team, it’s essential to gauge the effectiveness of your efforts by measuring and evaluating progress regularly. Implement surveys, assessments, or feedback processes to gather insights into the level of psychological safety within your teams. You’ll then be able to analyse the data collected, identify areas for improvement, and track the impact of your initiatives over time. One of the bigger barriers businesses can face in fostering psychological safety in their workplace is lack of consistency. Ensuring that you are regularly measuring the impact of your efforts will give you an accurate gauge and understanding of the progress and a clear idea of areas that need further attention and improvement.


Cultivating psychological safety in the workplace is beneficial to business in more ways than one. Creating an environment where every individual feels valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their best work results in a highly engaged workforce. By fostering a culture of psychological safety, you’re not only nurturing the wellbeing and success of your team but also laying the groundwork for sustained growth and success of your organisation as a whole.



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