Psychological safety

Prioritizing Psychological Safety at Work for Employees

Retaining employees in today’s competitive market is key to running a successful business. And for company leaders, prioritizing psychological safety at work for your employees is a big component of ensuring long-term retention.

In this guide, we’ll discuss what psychological safety is, how it affects employee retention, and key tips for prioritizing and improving the psychological safety of your team.


What is Psychological Safety in the Workplace?

When you think of safety in the workplace, you might envision OSHA guidelines and other physical concerns. However, an increasingly important topic surrounding safety in the workplace is that of employee psychological safety.

Psychological safety in the workplace refers to the idea that employees feel comfortable and secure when voicing ideas, asking leaders questions, or raising concerns. In a psychologically safe environment, employees do not worry about retribution or a negative impact for stepping outside of the norm.

With a psychologically safe workplace, employees are willing to brainstorm, share new ideas, and take risks. They feel comfortable bringing their whole self to work, without fear of discrimination.


Team working happily


How Does Psychological Safety Affect Employee Retention?

Emotional safety at work is critical to employee retention. When employees feel psychologically safe, they are more likely to be engaged with their company and invested in the future of the business. They feel open to offering their creativity and personal talents.

Psychologically safe work environments also foster healthy team dynamics. In these work settings, employees connect with colleagues on a deeper level and feel supported by their management.

The whole organization benefits from psychological safety in the workplace. According to Harvard Business School researchers, when employees experience psychological safety at work, it drives increased innovation, improves higher-quality decision making, and helps businesses retain their top talent.


Create Your Account Today

Already Registered?
Sign in »


Tips for Prioritizing and Improving Psychological Safety on Your Team

It is easy to see why promoting psychological safety at work is critical to the long-term success of your team. However, creating an environment where everyone feels safe won’t happen on its own. As a company leader, you have to consciously work toward creating psychological safety in the workplace. Use the following tips to create an inclusive, safe workplace for all:

  • Listen more: One of the best ways to ensure your employees feel safe is to make them feel heard. Often, people simply want to know that someone is listening when they voice a concern or present an idea. Rather than dominating meetings and conversations with employees, take time to step back and truly listen to understand.
  • Be open: As a leader, you may have an idea of how you want a project to run or how you want your team to operate. However, part of creating an inclusive, safe environment is being open to perspectives and ideas different from your own. And, as a leader, you will set the tone for the rest of the team dynamics.
  • Be supportive: When an employee presents an innovative idea or shares a concern, make sure you offer the support and appreciation they need to bring their idea to fruition, to be given the chance to take a risk, or to resolve a situation. Empower your employees to become leaders.
  • Be transparent: Fostering a psychologically safe workplace is all about allowing people the freedom to be human. As a leader, when you are transparent about your own shortcomings and admit when you have room to grow, you’ll create a space where everyone feels safe to be human. This creates an environment where employees are driven to grow, rather than to shrink away from risk for fear of failure.
  • Offer flexibility: Whether it is allowing remote work, providing flexibility in hours worked, or allowing for creativity on a project, create a flexible work environment where people aren’t forced to all fit in the same box.
  • Support self-care: It's important to ensure that employees are taking care of their mental and physical health. Put policies in place that support your employees as they deal with daily personal and professional stressors.
  • Set measurable goals: It is hard to know whether or not you are improving your team’s psychological safety without setting clear goals. Use surveys, outsourced analysis, and other tools to measure your team’s emotional safety at work.


If you want to learn more about how you can create a company culture that leads to higher employee satisfaction and retention rates, check out our Employer Resource Center.

By iHire | March 28, 2022