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Psychological Safety

It’s time to look at psychological safety. Psychological safety can help us improve the Health and Safety at work.

In 2016, Google identified psychological safety as the most important factor in deciding team success.

 Since then, the management concept has found its way into organisations and businesses all around the world. Its influence in the field of Health and Safety is also on the rise as more leaders, employ psychological safety techniques to help reduce workplace safety incidents.

What is psychological safety?

An idea first developed in 1960 psychological safety at work is a shared belief held by members of a team that others on the team will not embarrass, reject or punish you for mistakes or raising ideas, questions or concerns. Its use in the workplace gained fresh impetus through research by many, many people.

When employees are fully committed, the organization can leverage the strengths of all its talent to create a robust and innovative work culture. Psychological safety techniques are being used in the Health and Safety industry to encourage employees to speak freely of concerns or unsafe behavior without the possibility of being shunned or humiliated. A culture of silence can be dangerous when someone fails to report an error or a near miss through fear of reprisals.

Some workplaces are particularly complex environments with inherent risk and the potential for things to go not as planned. It’s therefore, easy to understand why staff could be fearful of consequences and any action taken. However, enabling all employees to feel it’s psychologically safe to give management bad news, share mistakes or concerns, or even provide critical feedback is essential if safety is to be managed proactively and efficiently.

Nurturing the right cultures and enabling the right behaviors to support safety has become even more challenging during COVID-19 pandemic, with the rise of hybrid working in which employees divide their time between the workplace and remote working. In response, psychological safety is now being considered as a way of helping teams to come together and succeed even when they’re working in different places. By creating an environment in which change can be embraced with a reassurance that there is a system in place which can resolve conflict, psychological safety is also thought to have been a positive impact on employee wellbeing.

So what does it do? It promotes safety.

It’s communication

Better communication will lead us to a better culture, making it easier for people to discuss concerns or report any near misses. It’s also about respect. Psychological safety removes fear from human interaction and replaces it with respect and permission. It’s also about embracing conflict, avoiding tough conversations, but working to resolve any conflicts that it produces.


Psychological safety is about changing mindsets and turning what has traditionally been viewed as failure into an opportunity for growth. When things don’t turn out as expected, ensure the responses are clear and constructive and establish know how the failure is handle. For example, allow time for reflections for being quick to point the finger.


The behavior of leaders can play a pivotal role in the success of any implementation of a psychological safety policy. Ensure leaders are available to help freely when needed, such as listening to concerns, which could help conflict. Leaders should also ask for help and input from the employees.

If an employee does speak up to the point of a failure or offer an idea, it’s important to be generally curious on a candor and also express gratitude to encourage them to continue this behavior in the future. Ultimately, psychological safety is about creating a sense of belonging. Asking questions about someone’s life outside of work can also help to create this sense of belonging by building this relationship.

Here at Chestnut Associates we are carrying many site sessions for businesses. If you would like to know more please contact us today on 07770 302504 or email joanne@chestnutassociates.co.uk