Article: How can companies build a psychologically safe organisation?


How can companies build a psychologically safe organisation?

In his keynote at the People Matters Total Rewards and Wellness Conclave, Premkumar Seshadri, Advisor to the Board & Chief Mentor at stressed the importance of those initiatives which prioritises psychological safety in the workplace.
How can companies build a psychologically safe organisation?

The new age corporate culture in India has been involved with taking initiatives that are focused on improving the employee experience. These initiatives are implemented to take care of the employee’s needs by focusing on their skills and competencies. This will enable them to perform at their maximum potential levels which will help in developing their leadership capabilities.

In the age of emotional burnout and fatigue, organisations need to invest in initiatives that will ensure the psychological safety of their employees. In his keynote at the People Matters Total Rewards and Wellness Conclave, Premkumar Seshadri, Advisor to the Board & Chief Mentor at stressed the importance of those initiatives which prioritises psychological safety in the workplace. 

What is psychological safety?

Seshadri defines Psychological Safety as the potent combination of culture and fearlessness of an organisation together with the emotional strength of an individual. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has become a defining moment for the corporate world - we has seen increased levels of anxiety caused by the cognitive overload of processing distressing information. According to studies, one in three employees across the Asia Pacific region are recorded to have experienced burnout.  

The pandemic-induced overdrive has led to frustration at the workplace, poor dedication levels and a large number of employees experiencing burnout. In such situations, it becomes imperative that organisations invest in building on their psychological safety measures.

Fearlessness of an organisation and emotional strength of an individual are two parameters that Seshadri has taken up to understand the environment created in the company for its employees. These two parameters can be used to gauge how comfortable employees feel in navigating difficult situations, how they contribute to ensure productivity and how inclusive the workplace is. 

In a psychologically safe workplace, the organisation does not shy away from situations because of the risk of failure. In such environments, employees are celebrated even on their failures as it encourages a free flow of ideas among them. 

According to a study conducted by Alphabet-Google’s parent company, it was observed that employees who were assured of complete insulation from any criticism are the ones who take on large and risky projects. Seshadri stressed on the importance of an organisation’s fearlessness in creating a positive framework for its employees. An employee who is afraid to speak up will not contribute to the change, growth and agility of the company. 

Emotional strength of an individual is another important aspect of psychological wellness. Each individual comes to the workplace equipped with unique emotional indices. These emotional indices help in assessing a person’s attitude towards risk and failure.

To create a correct index of measuring emotional strength various things like an individual’s inclination to disagree with their superiors, their reactions to risk and failure, their empathic abilities and their willingness to help others and be helped themselves are to be considered.

This index will help determine how the individual copes with emotional issues and the manner in which they respond to criticism and feedback. Emotionally strong individuals are often not scared of voicing their own opinions and working towards bringing in the change that they want to see. In a psychologically safe environment, employees are naturally perceptive, risk-tolerant, customer-centric, disruptive and inclined towards embracing change. 

Benefits of psychological safety investment 

Psychological safety translates into strong performance indicators. Across the globe, organisations that have started looking at psychological safety as a core component of experience generation are seeing benefits and ROI unheard of in normal investments. These organisations are among the ones which can quickly generate ideas and test those ideas. 

Their employees are readily involved in large projects and have developed fearlessness towards personal failures. Using emotional strength and fearlessness as parameters, companies can ensure that their employees develop a  great sense of self-awareness, social awareness - emotional understanding of their teammates, methods of self-management during tricky situations and an understanding of the best practices that will augment productivity. Psychological safety in the workplace also enhances emotional connectedness and empathy among employees. So, start investing in building a psychologically safe place to work, before it’s too late. 

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Topics: Culture, Corporate Wellness Programs, Benefits & Rewards, #PMTRWC

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