Psychological Safety at the Workplace

culture of care

Sree Mitra

November 22, 2023

Author: Dr Steve Hickman

In 2022, the US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy wrote “My parents, like so many others, were drawn to this country by the opportunities it offered: to work, learn, and grow; to be happy and healthy; to belong and to matter. Workplaces have the power to provide such opportunities, and when they do, everyone is better off.”

In his subsequent report on “Workplace Mental Health & Well-Being, Dr. Murthy lays out a framework built around five essential elements namely: Protection From Harm, Connection and Community, Work-Life Harmony, Mattering at Work, and Opportunity for Growth.

At Q Studio we are continuously exploring ways in which individuals and organizations can revitalize workplaces by actively focusing on mental health and well-being as a driver and enabler of performance. Through a series of blogs, we will explore each of the elements stated in the US Surgeon General’s framework and evaluate what employers and employees can do to incorporate mental wellbeing practices into the day-to-day work life.

Creating a Safe Space: Why Workplace Psychological Safety needs to be taken seriously

Workplaces can sometimes feel like the wild west, with employees tip-toeing around sensitive issues and opinions, afraid to speak up for fear of ridicule or judgment. But hey, who wants a workplace that’s more nerve-wracking than a tightrope walk across Niagara Falls?

Enter the superhero of office dynamics: Psychological Safety. It’s like a comfy, well-worn couch in the middle of the workplace jungle – a place where you can relax, be yourself, and share your thoughts without fear of getting metaphorically eaten alive. Just take a moment how it might feel inside yourself to work from that couch, or at least to feel like your workplace has that vibe.

So, what’s the secret sauce to cultivate this safe haven at work? Let’s break it down:

Encourage Open Dialogue:

Invite your team to voice their thoughts and opinions. Acknowledge their ideas, even if you don’t agree. After all, Batman and Robin didn’t always see eye-to-eye, but they had each other’s backs!

Embrace Mistakes:

Mistakes are the ultimate learning tools. Celebrate them as opportunities for growth and watch your team flourish like sunflowers in a well-tended garden.

Lead by Example:

Be the Sherlock Holmes of empathy. Show your team that it’s okay to be vulnerable and make mistakes. Vulnerability is your superpower! Make it your strength and not weakness.

Listen Like Yoda:

Active listening is key. Don’t just hear; listen. Make your team feel heard and appreciated. Some people say “I try to listen this way, but it’s so hard!” Remember the wise words of Yoda: “Do, or do not. There is no try.”

Team Building:

Organize fun team-building activities that help break down barriers. Remember, even the Avengers had to learn to work together! And remember it isn’t always easy to do this, but even the effort is appreciated by the team, and combined with active listening, it can be truly transformative.

In the end, fostering psychological safety isn’t that complicated. It’s about creating a workspace where everyone feels valued, respected, and free to be themselves. So, go ahead, be the workplace hero who turns your office into a place where people can achieve their full potential. More often than not, this will lead to satisfied, productive, creative and successful work environments.

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