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4 min read

Is Your Organization Psychologically Safe?

Is Your Organization Psychologically Safe?

If you’re not getting peak performance and innovation from your team, it’s time to consider the impact of your company culture.

In the business world, there are often buzzwords that come and go as quickly as people think them up. “Psychological Safety,” however is not the idea of the month. It’s a long-standing critical element of business culture. It exists when every member of your team feels safe to take risks, express their ideas, voice concerns, ask questions, and admit mistakes without fear of any negative consequences. It’s the too often neglected mental health component needed to support sustainable personal AND business growth.

An organization’s psychological safety will be compromised if leaders are expected to meet ambitious goals with little regard for how they get there. This antiquated way of driving productivity may lead to a degree of success, but an organization will never reach its true potential if its human assets are not treated as, well…human.

You need engaged employees whose skills are nurtured, and whose motivations are understood. It will take a leadership model that puts people and their humanity first. And it’s not just for them, it’s how you get the honest and diverse input needed to run your business operations well.

How Does Psychological Safety Impact Productivity?
As we all know, unengaged, unsatisfied employees don’t equate to optimal performance. So, if psychological safety isn’t addressed through your business culture, you run the risk of people just doing the minimum to get paid and moving on at their earliest opportunity. But if you want the business to thrive, the employee experience has to be made a priority. According to research compiled by Accenture, when organizations ensure psychological safety, they can expect the following impact on workplace dynamics.

  • 26% reduction in turnover
  • 76% increase in employee engagement
  • 50% increase in productivity
  • 74% reduction in stress

Imagine how much more your business could do if everyone was giving their best! 

It takes more than a 20% pay raise to lure most employees away from a manager who engages them, and next to nothing to poach most disengaged workers.


Get It Right From Day One

It’s vitally important to provide a positive, people-centric atmosphere from the moment someone comes in for an interview to the conclusion of their service to your business. They should feel like your organization is a safe space where they can openly share who they are, their passions, their desires, personal goals, etc. If you structure your business with this as your priority, you will:

  • Increase Engagement
  • Improve Loyalty and Retention
  • Foster More Innovative Ideas
  • Build Empathy and Cohesion
  • Capitalize on Natural Talents

Low-engagement teams typically endure turnover rates that are 18% to 43% higher than highly engaged teams.


Mitigating Psychological Risks

Employee well-being and profitability usually go hand-in-hand. A negative employee experience can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression which makes it unlikely for them to fully engage in driving success. No one likes to feel like they are just another cog in the wheel, right? They want to be understood, encouraged, and valued for their contributions. And you want them to participate in strategic conversations where their input could be the most valuable ingredient in a project’s success.

This is what you do to build a strong team and mitigate psychological risks:

  • Build Trust Through Authenticity
  • Fuel Growth With Opportunities
  • Value Every Perspective
  • Draw on Each Individual’s Natural Talents
  • Foster a Culture of Open Dialogue

How Does Your Business Measure Up?
While the majority of organizations probably feel like they provide a nurturing and psychologically safe environment, statistics on employee satisfaction show otherwise. According to the results of a recent McKinsey Global Survey, only 43% of employees report a positive climate within their team!

Supportive leadership has an indirect but still significant effect on psychological safety by helping to create a positive team climate; it involves leaders demonstrating concern and support for team members not only as employees but also as individuals.

McKinsey & Company

As you reflect on your own business culture and leadership style, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is your business a place where employees love to come and work?
  2. What is the engagement level of your employees?
  3. Can your employees openly share their ideas without recrimination, prejudice, or negative judgment?
  4. Are your employees comfortable sharing who they are, their dreams, goals, etc.?
  5. What investment is your organization making in employee engagement?

How Do I Fix It?
It’s easy to see how important psychological safety is when it comes to creating an engaged, productive workforce. But what do you do if your current environment requires a little refinement? Well, one of the best ways to improve company culture and elevate the employee experience is to get to know people better.

The DNA Web App can help you understand each person’s natural behavior style and provide practical insights that help you connect and work more synergistically together. Our behavioral assessment uncovers a person’s unique strengths and motivations, allowing for a high degree of understanding between people. It even helps people know themselves better. Plus, the technology was actually designed with psychological safety in mind!

We’ve structured the DNA Natural Behavior Discovery Process in a way that allows behavioral insights to be shared and discussed in a safe way using a common judgment-free language. We suggest sharing behavioral profiles by leaders with their teams, advisors with their clients, spouses/partners with each other, etc. This kind of open sharing builds more emotional connection which is fundamental to building a team that functions at its best, whether that’s at home or at the office.

Psychological Safety + Behavioral Insights = Better Role Alignment
An important byproduct of building a psychologically safe organization enhanced by behavioral insights is that it allows for more precise role alignment. After all, it’s a lot easier to put people in roles that are the right fit for their talents if you know their inherent behavior styles. And hiring managers and team leaders have a certain amount of accountability for getting it right. Without the tools of behavioral science technology, one of the following mistakes could easily be made.

  • Strategists are very fast-paced, practical thinkers who focus on results, not relationships. If you unknowingly put a Strategist in a client care role, both the employee and their clients might soon be ready to walk out the door.
  • Community Builders tend to be easy-going and amiable, and their natural inclination is to help and support others. If a Community Builder is put in a very structured project role where they mostly work in isolation, it could cause performance issues, not to mention a high degree of dissatisfaction for the employee.

The bottom line is that assigning appropriate roles or building a collaborative team that has the perfect blend of skills and personalities can only be done if you know how each person inherently thinks and works. And individuals who know their behavioral identity and strengths are better equipped to precisely guide their careers.

The Greatest Barrier to More Open Sharing
An existing lack of psychological safety can most definitely hold people back from sharing their behavioral profile, their ideas, and more. If employees do not feel comfortable exposing who they are, that’s an organizational culture issue – which starts at the very top. So, if the CEO and senior leaders are not prepared to openly share who they are, there will not be a sufficient level of psychological safety for employees down the line to share.

Set the Standard
As a leader, what you do or don’t do can profoundly shape the organization you represent. So, why not start by taking the DNA Web App for a spin and see what your own behavioral profile looks like? Then, share your results with your team. You’d be amazed at what can happen with a little personal transparency!


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