Your Call and Rely were joined by a panel of experts to discuss how to build a psychologically safe workplace. Here is a summary of the key takeaways, together with a recording of the webinar.

What is psychological safety?

Psychological safety is a shared belief that it’s safe to discuss ideas, provide feedback, experiment and take risks, and learn from mistakes.  Every person in an organisation is responsible for creating and supporting psychological safety.

Psychological safety exists when employees are not afraid to:

  • Ask questions
  • Admit mistakes
  • Share ideas
  • Ask for help
  • Take risks
  • Experiment
  • Raise concerns
  • Give and receive feedback

What isn’t psychological safety

The definition of Psychological safety is important because this term is often confused with these other similar terms:

  • Psychological health: is protecting and ensuring the psychological health and wellbeing of employees, in a similar way you would approach protecting physical health
  • Psychosocial Safety: is providing organisation-level policies, process and environment to protect work practices eg. work roles are designed to there is not overload

Why does psychological safety matter?

An organisation with a psychologically safe culture benefits in terms of productivity, risk management and employee well-being. It is the foundation for a strong whistleblowing program.

Psychological safety helps to:

  • Boost team creativity, innovation and performance
  • Encourage employees to take intelligent risks that comply with workplace policies
  • Foster a healthy workplace where there is trust between leaders and colleagues

What holds employees back from speaking up?

There are a number of reasons why people don’t share ideas, raise concerns or ask questions at work.  Consider whether you have ever held back from doing or saying something at work because you thought:

  • I will look ignorant if I ask a question
  • I will seem incompetent if I admit I need help
  • I will be perceived as negative if I question how things are done
  • If I challenge the status quo, I will be perceived as disruptive
  • If I admit a mistake, it will be held against me
  • It’s not safe to speak up at work
  • No one listened last time I shared an idea
  • If I raise an issue, my boss/colleague will get defensive

How can leaders create psychological safety at work?

A leader’s role is to create an environment that fosters psychological safety. But in order for employees to speak up, leaders must first demonstrate an openness to listening and be self-aware of the power imbalance between their position, and the position of their team members.

There are 3 key steps leaders can take:

Frame the work

  • Set expectations about mistakes and failures. Lead by example and show that failures are learning and part of  your organisation’s continuous improvement
  • Talk about the difference between preventable failures (we know what should have been done, we just didn’t do it OR we know it was bad, but did it anyway) complex failures – we are unclear how this happened, but we can learn from it and intelligent failures – we stretched, and we didn’t make it, but we learnt a lot

Invite engagement

  • Ask questions to broaden the conversation – expand the topic to get more than one opinion and deepen the conversation to understand why and learn more about the topic
  • Show candour and vulnerability – demonstrate humility and humanness, which encourages others to do the same
  • Take a growth rather than a fixed mindset

Respond productively

  • Lead by example and share mistakes
  • Support employees to be vulnerable by responding positively, and inviting more of the same

What role does technology play in fostering a psychologically safe workplace?

  • Technology can be used to reach a broader audience and encourage more participation – those who are marginalised, and don’t have a voice are the ones who need to be heard
  • Use technology to fail fast, role play, act out a hypothetical and create a virtual world to experiment with failure
  • Technology, such as Rely, allows employees to speak up and share feedback without usual fears, hesitancy and judgement
  • Surveillance can cause stress or be used for harm – so making sure technology is being used appropriately is critical. Prevent harm without invasion of privacy – this is a tricky ethical landscape
  • Data integrity and ethics is an emerging landscape, the balance between protecting people and maintaining privacy is important to consider

How to measure & monitor Psychological Safety at Work

Rely is an intelligent platform that helps employees speak up safely and easily and leaders to take action on conduct and culture issues –  see how it works.

Watch the webinar

Watch the recording of the Psychological Safety at Work webinar (1 hour) and learn:

  • What is a psychologically safe workplace and how will it boost productivity, innovation and employee wellbeing?
  • What role to leaders play in developing psychological safety?
  • How can technology help build psychological safety of your workplace?

Watch Recording


 Additional resources

Meet Rely

Rely is an intelligent case management platform that helps you prevent, detect and respond to conduct and culture issues. See how it works.