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How to Create a Psychologically Safe Working Environment?

Safety at work has been a high priority for many years. Anyone who works in offices and warehouses will know there are stringent sets of rules to follow.

Always wear a hard hat in the warehouse. Make sure you have your hi-visibility vest on where there is traffic. Conduct a fire evacuation once a month to make sure people get out safe. These are the sorts of actions that have become commonplace across the UK.

The last few years have seen a rise in awareness of mental health issues as well. The Mental Health Foundation reveals that 74% of people in the UK felt some form of stress during a calendar year, something employers are becoming more mindful of. And these figures are commonplace across Europe and the rest of the world, too.

How can you create an environment within the workplace that is both physically safe, but also psychologically safe? We have put together some handy tips for ensuring the wellness of your team.

Treat Others How They Want to Be Treated

We all know the old adage ‘treat people how you expect to be treated’, but that is becoming quickly outdated. Everyone is different and how you’d like to be treated might not be the way someone else wants to be approached.

Employing a degree of emotional intelligence will help you move towards your goal of understanding people better. In our article ‘Innovative Companies Have Emotional Intelligence And Here’s Why’, we’ve already explained the importance of these skills and why they should be implemented.

Encourage Team Building

One of the causes of stress can be isolation within a team. The modern workplace is often busy, full of deadlines, tasks, problems to solve and ringing phones. Often, even in open-plan offices, a heavy workload can leave a person feeling isolated.

Bringing the team together, even for a short coffee break or a team-building exercise, promotes engagement and communication. Team building activities can help turn a team into a well-oiled machine but it can also help forge tighter links between your staff, suggests recruitment specialists Comeet. If your staff feel connected, they may open up to each other when they’re struggling, one of the first positive moves towards being psychologically safe.

Confront Negative Behavior

It would be wrong to assume workload is the only reason for psychologically unsafe working environments. People can be a big cause of problems, be it by aggressive or unreasonable behavior or constant conflict.

If you see such practices in your workplace, confront them immediately. Not aggressively, not in front of other staff, but you can take subtle steps to get to the root cause of someone’s disruptiveness or aggression.

Adopt a Learning Culture

Fear can lead to stressful situations; fear of being wrong, making a mistake and getting a dressing down. By adopting a learning culture – one in which mistakes are used as a development strategy, not a stick to beat someone with – it will help improve the environment.

Thinking of your career journey as a series of development opportunities can have a hugely beneficial effect, which is also applicable to the journey of your staff too, reports ICAS. Coach them, encourage them and help them embrace mistakes.

Be Flexible

Most of all, be flexible.

Have a relaxed approach to working hours if you can, try to have empathy with an employee’s personal situation. The more you give, the more you should give back. If you ensure that your approach is being reciprocated and not taken advantage of, you should find the working environment becoming increasingly psychologically safe.

Picture Credit – Pixabay.