In order for an organization to function at its peak effectiveness, all employees must feel they are working in a safe environment. According to Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson, psychological safety in the workplace is defined as “a shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.” A safe working environment should encourage new ideas, open lines of communication, and always inclusivity.
Why is psychological safety important?
When employees feel they have a safe place to operate and exist in while at work, they are naturally inclined to do their best work. They must be aware of this safety so that they can take risks by offering their unique perspective at meetings or attempting to creatively solve problems they see happening.
Imagine–– you have one manager seeking to problem-solve or beautify a business’s structure. That’s great! Having a person entirely dedicated to perfecting the flow of a business can be a huge asset to the organization’s success. However, think about how limited a singular human brain is. Even the expert multitasker will only be able to solve a handful of issues at a time, and only when they are brought to them directly because oftentimes managers aren’t seeing all the work taking place at the ground level.
Imagine instead–– every single employee works through their day and notices the unique, specific ways their job could be improved. Maybe they discover a routine task that could be shortened in time by changing a simple step. Or, maybe they notice a chain of approval that could be shortened by removing one or two people from the communication line. The possibilities are endless but may die at the thought phase of problem-solving if those employees do not feel they have an avenue to share their thoughts on improvements.
This is why a safe working environment is critical.
When an organization encourages employees to bring forward their own ideas, and when they are encouraged to seek creative solutions to even the undiscovered problems, then a safe workplace is fostered. This benefits all aspects of the business, from the tip-top to the very bottom.
What can you do to begin fostering a safe workplace?
Start by using a caring leadership approach! I wrote The Art of Caring Leadership as a wake-up call. It’s an invitation for leaders who want to uplift their teams and organizations by putting their people first. When you listen to your employees, empathize with them, and genuinely take their experiences into account when structuring your business, then you are on your way to fostering a safe environment for them to thrive in.