Creating a culture of Psychological Safety: Building a mentally healthy workplace

Creating a culture of Psychological Safety: Building a mentally healthy workplace

When you think of an Ideal workplace, how do you imagine your colleagues to respond to you when you are having a bad day at work? How would you want your Manager to communicate critical feedback to you? Apart from safety and security, what else do you watch out for when you consider joining a workplace? All your answers will help you understand what it means to work in a place that offers support and psychological safety. 

What is psychological safety?

While working with a big group, everyone tends to have different backgrounds, working styles, and life circumstances that they come from. Building an environment of psychological safety means feeling safe in interpersonal interactions and while bringing up sensitive topics, being able to take risks and speak up for what one deserves. Psychological safety ensures that no one is left behind. It promotes inclusivity and mutual respect for everyone irrespective of their diverse backgrounds or the roles they share at the workplace. 

Why do we need psychological safety?

  • When your safety is ensured, it allows you to optimize your skills and focus more on what is important.
  • Psychological safety enhances a healthy culture where nobody feels threatened, ashamed, or judged and can make decisions that are not based on fear or threat. 
  • It makes sure that there is mutual respect and understanding for everyone and their backgrounds. This is especially important because the workplace is one of the places where an individual spends the majority of their time therefore it must provide that amount of safety and security. 
  • Everyone is fighting battles that they do not talk about. Each person shows up with different sensitivity levels. Something normal for one person, may be a trigger or a sensitive issue for another. Therefore it is always nice to be kind and considerate towards everyone’s mental health and make everyone feel included and cared for.  

How can we create and implement Psychological Safety in the workplace?

  • Understanding and respecting personal space and boundaries:

Working in groups may bring up multiple opportunities where employees are expected to do the shared work. It may require employees to go for plant visits or execute a presentation together. It is important to understand that everyone has different preferences and comfort levels while sharing physical spaces. Ask before you assume that the other person is okay with sharing spaces. Asking always enables a foundation of trust and increased understanding before executing any task. 

For some people, the boundaries can be very flexible and for others, they can be flexible. It is crucial that every person feels their boundaries respected and acknowledged. It strengthens an atmosphere of safety, security, and comfort for everyone.

  • Use language that is inclusive and respectful.

Every workplace is a unique amalgamation of different cultures, values, and personality styles. It is important to respect every diversity and treat it with mutual respect and openness. When it comes to using vocabulary in the workplace, it is best to use a language that reflects the tone of inclusivity and respect and does not offend any particular culture or person. It also involves not being demeaning or disrespectful towards anyone.

  • Offer listening space and avoid cross-talking.

It is a sign of mutual respect to allow someone to express themselves freely without interrupting them. Avoid cross-talking or indulging in other activities when your employees are sharing something personal or vulnerable. Allow them the listening space that they deserve. It builds a sense of safety and understanding in the workplace.

  • Always acknowledge your employee's efforts.

If you ever have to request someone for a task that does not fall under their role, please make sure to acknowledge their efforts before assigning people to jobs that are outside of their role

  • Be compassionate.

Compassionate leadership is always one of the most successful and preferred kinds of relationships. Being compassionate does not only focus on the results but also prioritizes the safety and well-being of the employees. Whenever an employee feels understood by the organization, it fosters trust and enhances workplace well-being.

  • Offer additional support via Employee Assistant Programs.

You can also offer your employees a platform to seek professional help through the means of counselling sessions and therapy. A therapist uses a non-judgmental approach therefore ensuring that there is no bias or conflict of interest with others in the company. The therapist makes use of various therapeutic skills and techniques to equip an individual with better coping mechanisms and increased awareness to tackle issues by themselves. 

Employee Assistant Programs include a bunch of following things and these programs are often customizable so you can tailor them according to your organization’s needs.

Helpline: Helplines are usually of two kinds;

  1. Crisis Helpline: To be used in case of an emergency i.e. when someone is encountering suicidal ideation, thoughts, or threats.
  2. Counseling Helpline: To be used to have sessions with Mental Health Professionals. These can either be audio or video sessions.

Group therapy: It is an effective tool to sensitize people about mental health and mental health conditions. Group therapy sessions can be based on a particular theme as well.

Workshops and webinars: These programs usually focus on skill-building and usually include activities for people to experience and introspect within themselves.