Only 3 out of 10 workers feel like their input is valued at work according to a 2017 study by Gallup. The cost? Increased turnover, disengagement and absenteeism.
This study was done in 2017, prior to the major global disruptions that have occurred in the past four years that have affected our worldwide health and humanity as well changed the way we work.
Solving this problem is no small feat, but a solid way to start is by putting measures in place to increase employee psychological safety.
When employees feel psychologically safe to express themselves at work, offer up opinions, and contribute with their unique perspectives we create the conditions for a healthy culture. One where diverse views are heard without fear of repercussion. One where we not only accept but value and encourage people to share, to learn, to try and to think outside the box. In doing so we remove the limits of possibility and ignite innovation and human potential.
What are some steps you can take to creating a psychologically safe work environment?
- Identify barriers to effective communication. Think message, mode, and meaning. Are the right people getting the right message at the right time in the right way? Not all communication should be done through email.
- Actively seek and create opportunities to provide feedback in a variety of ways. Sometimes people don’t feel comfortable voicing their opinions in front of a crowd initially but will provide their feelings through surveys or one on one discussion.
- Recognize and provide frequent and meaningful appreciation to those who contribute and show ingenuity in their ideas and thought leadership. By both modeling and rewarding the behavior they want to see, leaders can foster an environment of open communication and innovation.
- Reiterate purpose and role clarity. Employees who not only understand their job duties but understand how their role contributes to the greater success of their team and organization and why they are doing the work they do are ultimately more successful.
- Foster community through employee resource groups. Affinity groups are an amazing mechanism to create circles of trust within small groups. Employees who share in the same struggles, beliefs, or circumstances can connect with each other often on a more personal level. These groups are powerful in that they can often take employees from feeling alone and disengaged to feeling supported and encouraged to bring their whole self to work.
- Finally, and perhaps most importantly, value the human experience at work. People are going to make mistakes, miss important details, or do things that will unintentionally adversely impact others from time to time. If people feel safe to take more risks, we need to be forgiving of these slights instead of assigning blame, complaining, or shaming. Creating a psychologically safe workplace doesn’t mean we will always be in agreement with others but that we are okay with that. We will still respect each other and strive to eliminate bad processes and build upon what we learn from our errors.
These steps merely scratch the surface when it comes to transforming the dynamics of your workplace and creating a psychologically safe, speak up culture. Awareness and proactive communicate can go a long way in creating momentum towards building a mentally healthy, positive and inclusive work environment.