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Psychologically safe workspaces is the new normal

In a fearless organisation, people express question and innovate freely: Amy Edmondson

Original article from Economics Times By Srijana Mitra Das, ET Bureau | Last Updated: Aug 19, 2022, 08:24 AM IST

Importantly, companies should be very open about the challenges they face. Team leaders and CEOs should explicitly acknowledge that they are facing something new which involves everybody’s best thinking — this creates the rationale for people to speak up.

Amy Edmondson teaches leadership and management at Harvard Business School. Speaking to ET, she discusses how to build a
‘fearless organisation’:

What is the core of your research?
I study what it takes to create a learning organisation in a rapidly changing world — I research the kind of culture that is needed for people to be able to speak up with their work-relevant ideas. I call this ‘psychological safety’ which means an environment where people believe that their voice is welcome.

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What is Psychological Safety at the workplace?
Psychological safety is the shared belief that an employee or team would not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes. In a psychologically safe environment, discrimination would not interfere with allocation of opportunities to employees. Research indicates we become more open-minded, resilient, motivated, creative and persistent when we feel safe. As a result, team productivity increases and contributes towards the growth of the organization. In other words, a psychologically safe environment leads to a happier and productive workforce.
Effects of a Psychologically Safer Workplace
Google and Dr Amy Edmonson conducted separate studies which demonstrated that teams which made more mistakes were more productive and successful than others. When people feel more comfortable to take risks, this fosters an environment of innovation at the workplace. A key trait of a high-functioning team is the ability to brainstorm, strengthen plans of action and troubleshoot concerns where employees have a supportive relationship with each other.

Emotionally Strong Workplace
When we get to know our employees on a human level, we build employee trust through positive interactions and conversations. This psychological safety results in happier teams and increased employee engagement where employees are more willing to share unspoken reservations. When we are able to destigmatize failure as an inevitable bump along the road to success, employees are more courageous to take risks.

Talent Retention
With supportive relationships at work, employees feel more confident about raising genuine concerns and are more equipped to prevent or handle failure. When employees are fully committed, organizations have an opportunity to leverage the strength of all their talent. Churn rates are lowered with talent retention, and we notice decreased costs related to recruitment and absenteeism. Organizations are also four times more likely to retain top performers, two times more likely to hit revenue goals as the employees are two times more likely to achieve their first-year performance goals in a psychologically safe environment.

Teams move into a learning zone, when accountability for performance interacts with psychological safety. When a safe environment is ready, members facilitate learning from failures, and members' feedback-seeking behavior and adaptability could be strengthened (Gong and Li, 2019). This results in healthier, more inclusive and more productive teams where there are higher levels of engagement, more learning and development opportunities. When employees feel cared for and are happy, they have more intrinsic motivation to work hard and are more innovative too.
How can 1to1help make your workplace Psychologically Safe?
Founded in 2001, is India's leading Emotional Well-being platform with a focus on building psychologically safe organisations through employee emotional strength & wellness. With a track record of saving 8000+ lives, we are breaking new ground in the domain of emotional wellness services with tech-assisted, evidence-led psychological counselling services and comprehensive wellness solutions designed to assist organisations and their employees in challenges stemming from their personal or professional lives. With specialised suite of products for the industry & personalized to employee cohorts, 1to1help is transforming the way organisations are looking at employee wellbeing in the post covid era.
  • One of the largest and the most qualified pool of counsellors in India
  • Superior digital platforms to deliver specific care
  • Powered by evidence-based knowledge, skill system and robust supervision
  • Trusted by over 800 corporates with their 4.2 million lives

1to1help's MINDSPRING is a series of talks and conversations on subjects including Psychological Safety, Emotional Intelligence, Talent Retention and Emotional Strength as catalysts for employee productivity. The sessions will be hosted and conducted by carefully chosen eminent personalities, subject matter experts and key opinion leaders - much like yourself, who can help shape the mindsets of future organisational leadership.


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