Employees and their organizations alike have faced an incredible number of additional anxieties many have not dealt with before.

For those returning to the office: commute time and expense, childcare costs, and pandemic associated risks are now a part of our new normal. The new normal comes with added stress and anxiety on top of the usual demands of work and home. The pandemic has created additional fear and anxiety associated with the proximity of people, cleanliness of physical space, and vaccination status of those around you, that none of us are equipped to mentally manage while going about our day. To put it simply we are all facing psychological fear and anxiety the minute we walk out the door on top of everything else we already mentally manage daily.

Remote workers are also feeling the effects of our new normal just in different ways. Some are thriving in their remote environments but have replaced their commute time with work. Others are struggling with remote work isolation but are fearful and anxious about transitioning back to the office or even a hybrid schedule.

Whether those within your organization are struggling to make the move back, or feeling stuck at home, are they comfortable expressing this? When so many industries are fighting to keep workers it’s important to keep the workers you do have happy. Is your organization psychologically safe and able to support your employee’s mental health and wellbeing?

What is psychological safety?

Psychological safety in the workplace refers to an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and expressing themselves without fear of disrespect or disregard. This sort of workplace environment requires that organizations invite and respond effectively to different levels of participation and engagement among employees.

How do you know if your organization isn’t psychologically safe?

A lack of psychological safety can have harmful effects on an organization:

  1. Most will neglect to express themselves. Leading to a lack of diversity of thought.
  2. Employees don’t feel comfortable talking about initiatives that aren’t working. This means the organization isn’t informed and prepared to prevent failure.
  3. Employees aren’t fully committed to your organization. Which means you may lose talent.

Types of psychological safety

Making psychological safety a priority means identifying and applying the four types of psychological safety:

  1. Inclusion safety is a person’s ability to connect with and feel like they belong to an organization. Inclusion safety is the doorway to the next 3 levels of psychological safety where true collaboration and communication happen.
  2. Learner safety allows feedback, it’s 2-way communication and the encouragement to engage in all aspects of the learning process including making mistakes or asking for help.
  3. Contributor safety means those in the workplace will contribute what they know and apply lessons they’ve learned from others with direction and encouragement for the good of the organization.
  4. Challenger safety is exactly what it sounds like. When those within an organization are comfortable speaking up, even if it might not be the popular choice. This challenge to the status quo may be the avenue to innovation.

Psychological safety benefits the entire organization

People in a psychologically safe environment are:

  1. Able to express themselves freely and openly
  2. Engaged in discussions
  3. Enabled and supported to work through challenges
  4. Able to embrace change
  5. Actively engaging in discourse and collaboration

Psychological safety in a virtual environment

Because it’s highly likely that your workplace requires some extent of virtual collaboration it’s important to identify the specific ways that psychological safety is important virtually.

Use and encourage the use of chat/chatrooms. These allow for lessened vulnerability giving team members the chance to think through a thought before conveying, or conversate privately.

Virtual settings allow you to “listen” more intently. Without the additional lift of distractions in the modern workplace. Pay attention to the emotions on the speaker’s face over video and err on the side of over-communication over email or chatrooms alike.

Prioritize your organization’s psychological safety

No matter where your employees are, your organization needs to be psychologically safe to create a culture of communication and collaboration. Evolve Solutions Group can give you the tools you need to create a psychologically safe workplace. Schedule a consult today.