9 Ways to Create Psychological Safety at Work

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Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

Everyone experiences psychological safety differently, but it’s a crucial workplace factor that can help people feel supported and safe.

Today, we will explain what psychological safety is, why it’s critical, and how to create it in your team.

We’ll also share NINE ways to help ensure everyone feels safe and comfortable at work. Let’s get started!

Psychological Safety at work
Photo by Tamanna Rumee on Unsplash

What Is Psychological Safety at Work?

Psychological safety is the feeling of trust and camaraderie that comes with being comfortable with someone else in a work setting. It’s essential for building productive teams and allowing people to share their ideas without fear of judgment or reprisal.

Most people feel psychologically safe when they feel respected and understood by their coworkers.

It means that leaders must create a culture that fosters psychological safety – otherwise, employees will be reluctant to speak up and avoid the risk of being criticized or dismissed. 

While researching on google, I came across this terrific quote from Amy Edmondson, a Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School.

As Amy Edmondson says, psychological safety is “a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes, and that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.”

We have shared links to her books at the end of the article – explore them.

The Importance of Psychological Safety at Work

Without psychological safety, employees can’t do their best work.

They’re afraid to say anything that may offend or upset their coworkers, which creates an environment of fear and tension.

This lack of psychological safety can lead to reduced productivity, creativity, and even a decrease in morale.

The status quo must change.

When people feel psychologically safe, they’re more likely to be creative and candid in their conversations, which benefits themselves and the company.

They will come up with high-performing ideas with gratitude, even in difficult situations.

See how Google discovered the secret of effective teams under Project Aristotle.

9 ways to create Psychological Safety at work

Creating psychological safety at work is crucial for team climate.

It allows for open communication and trust, which leads to improved productivity and creativity.

Here are NINE ways to help create psychological safety mindset in your workplace:

  1. Encourage open communication

    Encouraging open communication is essential in any company. It not only ensures a safe environment but also helps to build trust between team members.

    Make sure everyone knows the company’s values and culture. And there are no surprises or misunderstandings.

    Also, encourage employee participation in surveys and focus groups. These surveys help to understand the employee’s thoughts and feelings.

    With this, you will be able to ascertain where issues lie before they become massive problems.

    And lastly, don’t forget the most important member of your team – the individual!

    Respect them for who they are – not just for what job they hold! It promotes psychological safety in your teams.

  2. Promote collective responsibility

    When it is safety and positive social behavior, remember that the key is to promote collective responsibility.

    It means that all members in a group (including remote teams) should be responsible and ensure everyone else is safe and comfortable.

    One way to do this is by creating a sense of community amongst your members.

    Do this by creating an engaging environment where people feel welcome and valued and share relevant content and information.

    You can also encourage open communication by setting clear rules and expectations and enforcing them consistently.

    When you promote collective responsibility, you will help team members feel safe and secure while working together. It also must become a shared belief among all team members.

    They will also be more likely to respect each other’s boundaries and privacy, contributing towards a productive environment overall.

  3. Foster trust and respect

    Creating mutual respect and trust-based safe work environments are vital for success in any business.

    It’s important to set boundaries for everyone, be clear about what is and isn’t acceptable, and encourage open communication – within the team and with clients or customers.

    When teams treat eachother fairly and respectfully, it builds trust between team members.

    It creates an environment of cooperation which leads to increased efficiency overall.

    Also, vulnerability is not a weakness. It is when team members let their guard down and are more open with each other. That is a good thing, as it allows for trust to develop.

    The bottom line? A healthy workplace culture equals satisfied employees!

  4. Be fair and consistent.

    Being fair and consistent is one of the most important things you can do when running a team.

    It ensures that everyone in your organization understands and follows the same rules, no matter how difficult it might be.
    It’s also important to remember that mistakes happen – even the best managers make them!

    So, instead of punishing team members for making errors, try to understand their reasons and provide feedback to help them improve.

    Furthermore, it will create an environment where people feel more confident speaking up without fear of being reprimanded or punished.

    A fair work community is another key ingredient for psychological safety in the workplace.

    By providing a supportive environment where you nurture these qualities, teams can achieve great things together – undoubtedly benefits everyone involved!

  5. Create boundaries

    Establishing boundaries with your team is necessary when creating a productive environment.

    Be honest, and open about acceptable behaviors so everyone knows where they stand.

    Furthermore, it’s necessary to set rules that everyone must follow, even if this means making unpopular decisions from time to time.

    This supportive environment should make people comfortable talking openly without fear of judgment or reprisal.

  6. Practice 360-degree feedback

    Allowing employees to share their thoughts and respectful feedback is a sign of being a good leader.

    By implementing 360-degree feedback, you can share accurate and timely insights that help you make informed decisions.

    To ensure that all employees have a good experience, set up a welcoming environment where everyone feels comfortable speaking up.

    This way, team spirit fosters by promoting fun activities and healthy competition.

    Employees should also feel safe voicing any negative thoughts – this will help you identify issues early on and constructively address them.

  7. Value effectiveness

    Creating a rewarding workplace for your employees is essential if you want them to stay with you in the long run.

    Understand their needs and motivations, and create a positive work environment where they feel appreciated. This way, problems can be identified early on and dealt with efficiently.

    The policies and procedures should be effective (and easy to follow) so that communication between team members does not crumble by unnecessary bureaucracy or red tape.

    To maintain a healthy balance of work/life balance for all of your staff, it’s also necessary to provide ample opportunities for socializing – both within the company walls and outside of work hours too!

  8. Promote creativity

    Giving the freedom to think is the best thing a manager or team leader can do at work.

    Employees thrive when there is the freedom to create and fail safely. Surprisingly, it also promotes self-awareness.
    Here is what you can do to promote creativity at work,

    – Encouraging employees to brainstorm and come up with new ideas.
    – Offering stimulating environments that challenge employees and provide growth opportunities.
    – Allowing employees to engage in experimentation and take risks.
    – Encouraging a sense of community among coworkers.
    – Encouraging open communication.

  9. Lastly, don’t forget to ask how your team is doing.

    It is always a good idea to ask team members how their day is going.

    That allows for open communication and builds trust between the team member and the manager.

    Additionally, it can help identify any potential issues that may be happening daily.

    By being genuine and empathetic, you will create psychological safety – an environment people feel safe to share their thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment or retribution from others.

    It leads to better workflows as they can freely express themselves, reach consensus faster, solve problems more effectively, etc.

    In short- Psychological Safety fosters collaboration!

How to tailor Psychological Safety into Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives?

With diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), psychological safety is vital to create an inclusive environment. 

It allows people from all backgrounds to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas without fear of reprisal or discrimination.

Here are a few things that the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) team can look at,

Instil a sense of community: Make sure everyone on the team feels a sense of connection and belonging. 

You can achieve this by fostering a culture of open communication, encouraging team members to share their ideas, and creating an environment where people feel safe to experiment.

Encourage risk-taking: Help employees take risks and try new things. It will help them tap into their creativity and innovation potential. 

Encouraging risk-taking also helps build trust among coworkers is vital for psychological safety.

Challenge employee assumptions: When employees are allowed to challenge their beliefs, they are more likely to innovate solutions. 

It is because they are not afraid of failure or looking stupid in front of the team.

Don’t let personal attacks stand: If you notice someone making an aggressive or derogatory comment about another team member, take a stand and intervene. Doing so will help discourage such behavior and protect the psychological safety of all team members.

Creating micro-learning about Psychological Safety

Psychological safety is a sense of trust and confidence employees feel at work.

The goal is to gradually increase the comfort level until employees are fully confident in discussing sensitive topics at work.

Hence, psychological safety micro-learnings should be delivered frequently and effectively.

Micro-learnings about Psychological Safety at work will foster a positive team climate, inclusivity, and openness.

These micro-learnings must try to address the below questions as Gallup suggests,

  1. What must employees count on each other for?
  2. What is the purpose of a team?
  3. What must we do differently to maintain the team’s honor?

Examples include topics like: 

– Employees know how to report uncomfortable situations or behaviors and how they take action seriously.

– There is no need to worry about being negatively judged or criticized by coworkers.

– The boundaries between personal and professional life are clear, so employees can open up without feeling uncomfortable or exposed.

This way, employees will gradually understand the importance of psychological safety and be more comfortable discussing sensitive topics at work.

Must read books by Amy Edmondson

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some key things to keep in mind when creating psychological safety for your team?

Trust and respect.

Encourage team members to share their thoughts and feelings. And everyone should feel safe discussing controversial topics.

It does not take time to experience disengagement in team dynamics. Employee engagement is all about creating a psychologically safe work environment.

Another key factor is providing clear guidelines about handling conflicts within the team.

You should provide a fair and unbiased way to resolve disputes and encourage team members to take any feedback constructively.

Finally, supportive leadership ensures recognition of individual contributions, fosters collaboration, and celebrates successes together. 

It will help team members feel appreciated and motivated to continue working together.

It brings out the full potential of the members of a team armed with good mental health, honesty, and agility.

Check out this journal article from APA psycNet.

How can we build or improve psychological safety in ourselves?

One way to improve psychological safety within selves is by understanding and acknowledging our feelings, thoughts, and opinions.

We can do this by speaking up to share our ideas and feelings respectfully, creating an environment where others can feel comfortable doing the same, encouraging open-ended questions, and offering support when appropriate.

To model active listening and empathy towards others, we need to be receptive to what others are saying and try to understand their perspective. By doing so, we can create a safe space for everyone to express themselves freely.

What is one way you can create psychological safety as a student?

Encourage open discussions and communication in the classroom.

Ensure to listen to your classmates and provide them with enough space to express themselves.

Ask questions that encourage critical thinking and constructive feedback. And last but not least, respect each other’s opinions and ideas without judgment or criticism.


Psychological safety is a key element of workplace success.

By understanding the importance of psychological safety and implementing strategies to create it, you can help to create a supportive environment for team members.

In this blog, we have provided you with 9 essential tips on how to create psychological safety. Read the article and apply the tips to your work environment to achieve the best results.

So, are you ready to create high-performing teams?

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