Psychological Safety in the Workplace

A Strategy to Increase Wellbeing and Productivity


In this article, we will explore a key concept in the HR world: psychological safety in the workplace. This topic has received increasing attention in the research community and has been recognised as a crucial factor in workplace effectiveness and well-being. Let’s dive into the understanding of psychological safety and see how HR professionals can promote it to create a positive workplace culture.


Psychological safety is not a luxury, but a necessity for modern workplaces that want to achieve a high level of wellbeing and productivity among their employees. HR professionals have a crucial role to play in fostering this important culture through leadership, training and support. By prioritising psychological safety, HR can contribute to a more efficient and dynamic workplace where employees flourish and the organisation thrives.

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What is Psychological Safety?

Psychological safety can be defined as employees’ sense of security and confidence to express themselves, share ideas and take necessary risks without fear of negative consequences such as humiliation, punishment or social isolation. It was first introduced to the research community by Amy Edmondson in the early 21st century (Source 1, Source 2). Psychological safety is essential to fostering an atmosphere where employees feel supported and encouraged to perform at their best.

The Importance of Psychological Safety in the Workplace

Research indicates that psychological safety in the workplace plays a critical role in employee engagement, collaboration and innovation. When employees feel safe, they are more likely to actively participate in decision-making and project work. This increases the chances of achieving better results as employees’ unique perspectives and ideas are heard and considered.

Benefits of Psychological Safety in the Workplace

Organisations that are able to establish a culture of psychological safety will experience a number of benefits (Source 6):

  • Increased Employee Engagement:
    Safe employees are more engaged, loyal and motivated to contribute to the success of the organisation. They feel a stronger connection to the organisation and are less likely to seek new job opportunities.
  • Increased Creativity and Innovation:
    Psychological safety encourages employees to think outside the box, experiment and take risks to find new solutions. This can result in innovative products, processes or service improvements that give the organisation a competitive advantage.
  • Better Collaboration and Communication:
    When employees feel safe, they are more likely to share information and ideas, which strengthens collaboration and decision-making. A strong feedback culture also increases the effectiveness of communication and reduces the risk of conflict.
  • Reduced Conflict and Stress:
    A culture of psychological safety minimises potential conflict and reduces stress levels in the workplace. This can improve employees’ mental wellbeing and create a more harmonious work environment.

The role of leadership

HR leaders have a crucial role in creating a culture of psychological safety. They must demonstrate openness and trust, be responsive to employee concerns and show a willingness to accept feedback. Managers should also act as role models by showing how they take risks and learn from mistakes.

Education and Training

Implementing training programmes that focus on communication, conflict management and constructive feedback can help strengthen employees’ ability to express themselves without fear. Psychological safety training can also include workshops on building trust and creating an open dialogue between employees and managers.

Recognising Risk Taking and Learning

HR professionals should encourage and recognise employees who take risks and experiment with new ideas, even if the results aren’t always successful. This sends a strong signal that learning and growth are prioritised. By rewarding initiative and risk-taking, HR can create a culture that values innovation and creativity.

Feedback Culture

Create an atmosphere where feedback is perceived as constructive and valuable. This can be fostered through regular reviews, 360-degree feedback and an open dialogue between employees and managers. HR professionals can help implement feedback mechanisms that make it easy for employees to share their thoughts and ideas without fear of a negative response.

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