According to Gallup, one of the causes of the Great Resignation that has 48% of America’s workers looking for a new job is the lack of psychological safety in the workplace. Too many workers surveyed said they don’t believe their employer is building a positive team climate where they feel valued and heard.

As Maria Kraimer, Ph.D., a professor of human resource management and an associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion at Rutgers University explains,“In management research, there is considerable evidence linking psychological safety to higher levels of employee job performance and creativity. Employees who feel psychologically safe at work are more likely to speak up about potential problems and share information with their teammates.”

A recent survey conducted by McKinsey & Company revealed that only a handful of business leaders work to instill their teams with this feeling of psychological safety. In light of this data, the recommendation was that executives should consider adopting leadership styles that are more “consultive” and “supportive” to boost psychological safety, which will in turn improve productivity and reduce turnover.  

A The Upside article by Jessica Hicks goes deeper into the benefits of workplace psychological safety and lists easy ways leaders can cultivate it. The strategies include:

  • Communicate clear job expectations and make sure employees understand how they fit into the larger company ecosystem to instill a deeper sense of purpose.
  • Recognize employees for little as well as big wins to help build more self-confidence.
  • Encourage autonomy and reduce micromanaging to develop trust as well as a sense of ownership and independence.
  • Lead by example by approaching workplace interactions with the same level of vulnerability you’d like to see from your team.

These strategies are most impactful when implemented top-down, so employees see that it is ingrained in the company’s vision and culture. 

A 2020 study published in Frontiers in Psychology found that a workplace atmosphere that values everyone's ideas and actions can help employees be more adaptable when faced with challenging tasks, which ultimately boosts team effectiveness. As the researchers state: “Psychological safety is the ‘engine,’ not ‘fuel’ for performance.”

Read the full The Upside article here to learn how organizations and leaders can foster psychological safety to help their employees stay and thrive.