Why Psychological Safety Is Crucial To a Positive Workplace Culture
A positive workplace culture is one where employees feel connected to the organization, its values and mission, and their colleagues.
While there has been a lot of discussion in recent years about how exactly to build a positive workplace culture, to be successful, first and above all else, there must be psychological safety. In brief, psychological safety means that employees feel safe to be themselves, feel safe to speak up, use their voice and feel as though they matter.
Harvard Business Review conducted research on the qualities of a positive workplace culture and found that the following were essential:
- Caring for and being interested in our colleagues.
- Treating colleagues with respect, gratitude, trust, and integrity.
- Providing support for one another, including kindness and compassion
- Forgive mistakes and avoid blame.
- Inspiring one another at work.
- Emphasizing the meaningfulness of the work.
However, to achieve any of things, psychological safety must exist. Below, we look at the essential building blocks for a positive workplace culture once psychological safety has been established.
Positive Emotions in The Workplace
When employees feel safe, connected to the organization and their colleagues, and believe that what they do at work matters, they are likely to experience positive emotions. A positive workplace is a place where positive emotions and employee wellbeing are increased.
Barbara L. Fredrickson, Ph.D. — professor, author, and a leading scholar within social psychology, affective science, and positive psychology — identified the following emotions as the ten most common positive emotions: Joy, Gratitude, Serenity, Interest, Hope, Pride, Amusement, Inspiration, Awe, Love.
In addition to helping us to “feel good,” positive emotions positively affect all areas of our life, including our work satisfaction and connections at work. To learn more, don’t miss our post on 10 positive emotions that increase employee engagement.
A positive workplace culture also helps develop and improve people’s relationships. Don’t miss our seven ways companies can help employees build workplace relationships.
Maintaining Culture, Remotely
A recent article published on Digiday shares how remote working has made it more difficult for organizations to promote and maintain company culture. The article points out that it’s harder to remind long-term workers what the organization stands for and, at the same time, challenging to instill culture into the hearts and minds of new starters when working remotely.
“One has to redefine what the core elements of that culture encompasses when working remotely,” says Ylva Eriksson, Marketing Manager at Benify. “For instance, at Benify, we have the core value ‘Show Love’ as a part of our company culture. Our employees have had to define what that means in their professional life when working remotely.”
Organizations must find a way to reinforce their values and maintain company culture while working remotely. Therefore, be sure to create opportunities for employees to interact both professionally and socially. For ideas on how to create social opportunities during a time when many employees and workforces are working from home, we recommend reading this post.
Resilience in The Workplace
Another essential building block for a positive workplace culture is resilience. A positive workplace culture acts as a buffer against negative experiences, including stress, and instead helps develop resilience.
As shared in this REBA post, for individuals, resilience means the ability to ‘bounce back’ despite stress, adversity, or trauma. For organizations, resilience means the ability to adapt and thrive amidst challenges, such as the corona pandemic.
To build a resilient workplace, organizations need to succeed in developing a resilient culture, which begins with creating resilient employees. Resilient employees create a resilient workplace culture, which results in a resilient organization.
To create resilient employees, employees must feel supported and know that help and support are available.
The Importance of Employee Benefits
One of the best ways that organizations can support their employees is by providing them with benefits that support their wellbeing. To build a positive workplace culture, benefits must be of use to employees.
Offer benefits that help support “the whole person,” and which help make their everyday a little bit easier. For example, you may wish to offer discounted home cleaning services or improve their remote working situation by subsidizing the purchase or rental of home office equipment. Alternatively, you may wish to focus on wellbeing by offering subsidized home gym equipment or mental health benefits, such as counseling.
Another key component is to offer benefits that reflect the organization itself. For example, if you work for an organization and one of its values is sustainability, to reflect and reinforce this value, you might offer your employees the flexibility to choose from a range of sustainable mobility benefits, such as a bicycle subsidy.