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Workplace psychological safety and its role in retention

Employee Experience 20 Sep . min read
If your workplace is experiencing elevated levels of employee churn, it might be worth considering whether psychological safety is a factor.

Our latest insights paper – Revolving Doors – looks at the difference between onboarding and offboarding scores to understand how employee perceptions change over time.

One of the biggest watch outs from Revolving Doors is the drop in psychological safety score. On exit, only 63% of employees said they felt safe to tell the truth even when it was unpopular, a drop of 19%!

A Harvard Business Review article describes psychological safety as: the belief that one can speak up without risk of punishment or humiliation. The article goes on to say that "psychological safety has been well established as a critical driver of high-quality decision making, healthy group dynamics and interpersonal relationships, greater innovation, and more effective execution in organisations”.

Providing an environment where people are confident to speak up without consequence is absolutely critical. Especially where there are sensitive issues in play such as bullying, harassment, or intimidating behaviour.

Take the approach where all feedback is viewed positively. Even if it’s constructive or challenging, your team member cares enough to share their thoughts, paving the way for improvement.

For those that think this is all mumbo jumbo, think again! Psychological safety is important because it enhances employee engagement. When people feel safe at work it is easier for them to connect and engage. The benefits are many and include reduced employee churn, greater productivity, less stress, more engagement, greater collaboration, and faster learning.

Start by ensuring a safe environment and processes for people to provide their feedback. Listen to what is being said, and make improvements. Sometimes the best way to surface issues is to run an anonymised survey, where people are unencumbered by identity and free to speak up. Whatever the results, own them. And when someone raises a new or current issue, ensure there are absolutely no recriminations.

Here are our top tips to build psychological safety at work:
  • Inclusive decision making – involve your people
  • Up the transparency – acknowledge mistakes
  • Adapt to accommodate preferences
  • Build a feedback culture – ask, listen, act
  • Encourage work:life balance

If you’d like to read our Revolving Doors insights paper in full, you can download a copy here.

Tyrone Cunningham

National Manager Customer Success

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