Have you ever found yourself in an environment where expressing your thoughts and ideas were met with understanding rather than judgement? A place where asking questions, making mistakes, and taking risks felt not only permissible but encouraged? If so, you've experienced what researchers term "psychological safety.”
Psychological safety is not just a workplace buzzword; it's a game-changer for both individuals and organisations.
Let me share a personal story. Early in my career, I joined a team that exemplified these principles. It was a workplace where open dialogue was not just encouraged; it was ingrained in the culture. I vividly remember a team meeting where we were brainstorming ideas for a challenging project. Despite being a newcomer, I felt comfortable sharing my thoughts, even if they contradicted the established norms. Surprisingly, my ideas were met with genuine interest and constructive feedback rather than scepticism.
At that moment, I realised the power of psychological safety.
It was liberating to contribute without the fear of judgement. This experience not only boosted my confidence but also fueled my enthusiasm to actively engage in discussions and contribute meaningfully to the team's discussions.
In this article, we will discuss why psychological safety matters on a personal level and how it can transform your work life.
What is Psychological Safety?
Psychological safety is a term that has been getting a lot of attention lately, especially in the workplace. Coined by the brilliant Harvard Business School professor, Amy Edmondson, it's all about the belief that you can voice your thoughts, take chances, and share your ideas without fear of negative consequences.
Psychological safety isn't just anecdotal; it's backed by research. Studies have shown that teams with high levels of psychological safety perform better, are more innovative, and exhibit greater overall job satisfaction .
A Safe Space for You
Picture it as a safe haven in the storm of daily work challenges. In a psychologically safe environment, you can be yourself, speak your mind, and know that your voice matters. This environment fosters a sense of belonging, encouraging collaboration, problem-solving, and innovative solutions.
Four Levels of Psychological Safety
But here's the thing: psychological safety isn't a one-size-fits-all concept. It has four distinct levels, and each one is as important as the other:
Inclusion Safety: This is where it all begins. It's the foundation where individuals feel safe to be themselves, regardless of their background or identity. Everyone feels included and valued.
Learner Safety: At this level, you can ask questions, express concerns, and take risks without worrying about being ridiculed. It's all about continuous learning and improvement.
Contributor Safety: Here, you're not just a passive participant; you actively contribute your thoughts, ideas, and feedback, knowing that your input is highly valued and respected.
Challenger Safety: At the highest level, you have the courage to challenge the status quo, question decisions, and engage in constructive conflict without fearing retaliation.
Strategies for Promoting Psychological Safety
Now, let's talk about how organisations can create and nurture psychological safety at all these levels:
Lead by Example: Leadership sets the tone for psychological safety. Leaders must model the desired behaviour by actively listening, acknowledging mistakes, and valuing diverse perspectives.
Foster Open Communication: Encourage open and honest communication across all levels of the organisation. Use regular feedback channels, such as surveys or suggestion boxes, to gather employee input.
Celebrate Diversity: Embrace diversity and inclusion initiatives that create an environment where every employee feels valued and respected.
Support Growth Mindset: Encourage a culture of continuous learning and improvement by emphasising the importance of taking risks and learning from mistakes.
Actxa Wellness: A Commitment to Psychological Safety
At Actxa Wellness, we are committed to fostering psychological safety at various organisational levels. Our training and workshops on mindset, communication, active listening, and conflict resolution equip employees with the skills needed to create a psychologically safe environment. Contact us to explore our engaging webinars and workshops here.
Psychological safety isn't just an abstract concept; it's a powerful catalyst for personal and organisational success. By understanding its four levels and implementing strategies to promote it, organisations can create an environment where employees feel safe, included, and empowered to share their best ideas. In a world recognizing the importance of psychological safety, it's high time for organisations to prioritise it and unlock the full potential of their teams.
 Kim, S., Lee, H., & Connerton, T. P. (2020). How Psychological Safety Affects Team Performance: Mediating Role of Efficacy and Learning Behavior. Frontiers in psychology, 11, 1581. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01581
About the Writer
Jeannette Qhek is the Wellbeing Lead at Actxa Wellness, where she curates the wellness curriculum with relevant science-backed content. She is also the founder of "Chill By Nette", a wellness space committed to offering counselling services and enriching wellness workshops in Singapore. Presently, she actively provides psychotherapy and counselling services and workshops, where she continues her dedicated work in supporting individuals on their path to mental and emotional well-being. Through sharing her voice and creativity, she hopes to make psychological concepts and wellness research knowledge more accessible, relatable and fun to the public.
Connect more with Jeannette here ➡️ https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeannetteqhek/