A newer phenomenon in workplace safety is the idea of psychological safety. Unlike tangible hazards, psychological safety is often invisible and makes up the highly elusive culture of a workplace. Workplaces that aim to be mentally healthy, supportive and retain highly talented employees should invest in improving the psychological safety of their culture.
What is Psychological Safety in the Workplace?
In 2015, a two-year study by Google into what makes a great team found psychological safety as the most important dynamic to makes great teams successful.
Psychological safety is when teams who have a vested interest in successful outcomes are empowered to work more effectively together. It promotes risk-taking, innovation and debate in the workplace through open conversations about success and failure.
It’s imperative for employees to not only feel accepted and respected, but they should also be able to put in work efforts without fear of negative consequences that may undermine their productivity. Investing in individual employees psychological capital is the best way to make teams that are psychologically safe and a workplace culture that promotes innovation.
Uprise is the only Employee Assistance Program that measures and improves psychological safety in employees who use the UpSkill Resilience Program. As a result of using our program, employees reported increases between 5-10% for Hope, Optimism, Resilience and Self-Efficacy. See our outcomes from 2018.
4 WAYS TO BUILD PSYCHOLOGICAL CAPITAL AT WORK
Employees that promote a culture of psychological safety are often rated highly in different measures of psychological capital. They trust and acknowledge team members strengths and weaknesses, are empowered to ask questions and provide positive and negative feedback. They welcome nonconforming viewpoints and identify and work to resolve team conflicts early. Workplaces can develop psychological capital in more employees at work by focusing on 4 key components.
Promoting hope in employees is vital in generating a sense of excitement and drive for the future. This includes a clear and positive vision of their future at the company, as well as a future for themselves.
When employees start at a company, employers should ensure that they have a mentally healthy induction where they can discuss their position in the organisational chart and career goals. It should also include time to identify people that their success will influence and whose success will influence them to encourage social and professional connections within the company.
Image: Leena Kisonen
Optimism is often perceived as a personal trait that characterises some people more than others across life’s experiences. However, when considering the company as a whole, optimism becomes an aspect of work culture that should be strived for. At work, employees should believe that they are making a positive contribution and that their work matters.
This is particularly important to manage in times of failure. Failure happens across workplaces and teams, particularly in companies that focus on innovation and risk-taking. However, the workplace reaction to failure dictates the future of psychological safety and optimism. Psychologically safe teams acknowledge failure as a learning experience and use it to iterate and improve on future decision making.
To manage failure, all members of the team should
- Acknowledge how each individual could have better contributed to success
- Identify where more time or money should have been invested
- Look to training or resources to up-skill employees who were struggling
- Check-in regularly on the stress of other employees
- Speak to management if they feel overworked or under-skilled for a particular task.
Image: Ira Sholk
Resilience is similar to optimism, but occurs in situations that are outside of the individual employees control. In many organisations, there are a many inter-linked teams that can span across cities or continents. Failure or change in one office or team can have impact on employees who are miles away. In these uncontrollable circumstances, it is vital that employees are resilient and can cope with new or unexpected stressors.
Resilience is a personal skill that is most easily developed when you feel good. It includes understanding how to manage stress, mindset and unhelpful thoughts. Employers can offer their employees training in resilience based skills to take a more proactive approach to psychological safety and wellness in the workplace.
Uprise is one of the only Employee Assistance Programs that offers digital resilience and stress management training that is based on 10 years of research. As a result of using our program, employees reported increases between 5-10% for Hope, Optimism, Resilience and Self-Efficacy. Learn more about our program on a demo.
Self-efficacy is where an employee feels confident in their ability to meet the needs of their role. It is closely related to their self-esteem and motivation to succeed.
For employers to boost the self-efficacy of their employees, they should work on improving manager-employee relationships. This communication channel is vital particularly with newer employees to ensure they have a point of contact for any queries or concerns. Employees who fully understand their roles and responsibilities, performance targets and team members are more likely to be confident in their abilities and ask for help when they need it.
It is also important that there is employee recognition for success, rewards and a constructive feedback system that allows employees to frame their goal setting.
The Uprise Employee Assistance Program measures four integral factors of psychological safety including hope, optimism, resilience and self-efficacy before and after completing 4 weeks of the Uprise program. Scores are measured out of 100, with the average improvement after just 4 weeks of the program listed below:
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