What is psychological safety?
The psychological safety of an organization concerns the extent to which individuals feel safe to express themselves, share ideas and make mistakes without experiencing negative consequences. When psychological safety is in place, team members dare to take risks, show creativity and openly give and receive feedback.
The causes of a lack of psychological safety can be diverse. For example, authoritarian leadership styles, a lack of trust between team members and not being able to empathize with each other can contribute to an unsafe environment. It is important for leaders and managers to recognize and address these causes to promote psychological safety.
Why pyschological security must be in order
The lack of psychological safety in organizations can have serious consequences for both employees and the organization as a whole. We list some of the reasons why it can be dangerous:
- Impediment to productivity and innovation: If employees do not feel safe to share ideas or voice their concerns, it can lead to reticence and self-censorship.
- High levels of stress and anxiety: Employees may be afraid of making mistakes or experiencing negative consequences when expressing their opinions, resulting in stress and anxiety.
- Decreased trust and cooperation: In an unsafe environment, team members will trust each other less and be less likely to cooperate effectively.
- Higher employee turnover: Employees who do not feel safe in their workplace are more likely to leave the organization in search of a safer environment.
- Poor reputation and talent attraction: If it becomes known that an organization lacks psychological security, it can cause a negative reputation, making it more difficult to attract new talent.
In short, lack of psychological safety can have a negative impact on an organization’s performance, well-being and culture. It is therefore vital for leaders and managers to invest in creating a safe and supportive environment for all employees.
Getting started with psychological safety
Making psychological safety a priority begins with open communication and creating a culture where respect and trust are central. Leaders can lead by example by showing vulnerability, valuing feedback and fostering a culture of collaboration. It is also important to actively listen to team members’ input and ideas and encourage constructive discussions.
To measure and examine psychological safety evidence-based within an organization, it is important to use validated measurement scales. In the Psychological Safety Scan, The Better Company measures “employee voice” in conjunction with Amy Edmondson‘s scale for “psychological safety,” developed at Harvard. We relate the outcome (or degree of social safety) to the 9 scientifically based drivers of social safety. In the analysis of the measurement, we can determine which 2 to 4 of these 9 factors have a pervasive impact on the specific organization. But also where within the organization the most gains can be made.
The insights gained are a strong basis for conducting dialogues and taking action to promote a safe environment and improve team well-being and performance.
Psychological Safety Scan
Our Psychological Safety Scan measures the level of psychological safety within your organization and shows you how you can improve it. Download the product sheet to learn more.