How to create psychological safety in company practice?

How to create psychological safety in company practice?

Anamaria Jurković
4 min read
How to create psychological safety in company prac

Recently, blog texts and articles follow the market trend, and some of the topics we encounter are; How to keep employees in the company, How to attract the best candidates, What benefits are the best, and similar.

While on the one hand, all these texts make sense, on the other hand, there is not enough talk about the important factor that makes all this possible, which is psychological safety.

What is psychological safety and what does it mean for employees within a company?

According to the two-year project "Aristotle", carried out by the company Google, employees wanted to check What makes a team successful in its work?
They hoped that the results would show that the most important thing is to put together a diverse team, from different fields of education and such, but what the 200+ employees voted as the most important was precisely psychological safety.

According to Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson, psychological safety is "the belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for expressing ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes." 

The main question that employees within a team or company ask themselves is: Will I feel insecure or be ridiculed if I present my idea or if I say that I don't like the existing one?

In 2020, a survey was conducted during the pandemic and working from home, in which 1 in 5 employees stated that they felt that their opinion was not respected at work or was not even asked for.

As we ourselves at Joberty emphasize the importance of Employer Branding and Work with the purpose (which is ranked 4th in the same Google survey), we strive to provide positive examples to companies. Writing about psychological safety is a logical sequence because it is an integral part of what motivates us to come to work every day and work effectively on tasks and projects in the team we are in.

HR departments or company employees often think that if they offer competitive salaries on the market, provide good benefits, and find interesting projects, this automatically makes an employee feel secure in his position. Therefore, it is not uncommon for a factor such as psychological safety to be ignored or swept under the carpet.

What does psychological safety mean to us at Joberty and how do we achieve it?

Since the launch of our company, we have always operated as a remote company, therefore slightly different measures have been designed to ensure psychological safety.

Providing a quality onboarding process. Regardless of what the company does remotely, we emphasize the onboarding process, so that each new employee is familiar with the current processes, his duties, and all the teams within the company. Therefore, every new employee should be familiar with the work of other teams so that there is no fear when asking questions about another department. If we are talking about employment outside of Serbia, we make sure that the new employees come to Belgrade as early as possible so that they can complete the onboarding.

Joint work twice a month. Although we prefer remote work, we like to meet several times a month in order to still maintain that factor of human contact. Also, in this period, we organize longer meetings where we can comment in detail on all the strategies we previously agreed on via Zoom and see if there are still opportunities for improvement. Every employee has the opportunity to express their opinion or ask for feedback.

Focus on results. Clearly defined goals within each quarter help employees understand exactly what their responsibilities and job description are. Thus, everyone focused on their goal helps to achieve the company's broader goal.

Availability on Slack. Although remote is known as more flexible working hours, each employee can contact another and the answer or help follows very quickly. Responsiveness is great regardless of the location of the work.

Working parties. Although we work remotely, it is not uncommon for certain team members to meet a couple of times a week and work together in a more relaxed tone. Socializing with colleagues can be an important factor in mutual better understanding. Ultimately, this contributes to more open conversations about strategic plans and ventures.

Possibility of error. Of course, as in any job, be it remote or in the office, we all want to make as few mistakes as possible. But we have to admit that sometimes mistakes are inevitable. They may be wrong, but what we learn from them and what we see in the process makes our final work more effective. That's why when someone makes a mistake, we all participate in solving it together. A possible discussion on that topic simultaneously means the possibility of an open conversation, which we always like to listen to.

Do you want to check the psychological safety of your employees?

You can do this with this short questionnaire of seven questions that Amy came up with in the paper of the same name. Employees answer from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree).

  • If you make a mistake on this team, it is not held against you.
  • Members of this team are able to bring up problems and tough issues.
  • People on this team sometimes accept others for being different.
  • It is safe to take a risk on this team.
  • It is not difficult to ask other members of this team for help.
  • But one on this team would deliberately act in a way that undermines my efforts.
  • Working with members of this team, my unique skills and talents are valued and utilized.

The path to establishing psychological safety within the company requires the daily work of everyone present, and this test can be your first step towards creating a positive culture in the company.

We believe that the main component of success is a working environment that has relaxed and motivated employees. If your employees are not afraid to say what they think, there is a high probability that you will develop a plan several times, and then come to the best conclusion for the company. Therefore, if you haven't yet, we advise you to conduct a psychological safety questionnaire among your employees, identify your weaknesses, and by working on them, ensure more efficient and productive work for your employees as well as a positive work environment.


[10:27 AM]