Article: Employee Silence: An Alarming Reality

Employee Relations

Employee Silence: An Alarming Reality

A recent research, conducted by a team of experts at HappyPlus, revealed that nearly 72% of employees surveyed feel that they can't speak their heart out at workplace, despite taking pride in being associated with the organization. Most of the employees do not speak up due to the risk of punishment or humiliation.
Employee Silence: An Alarming Reality

Happiness at the workplace is the key to the overall growth of the employees as well as the organizations. Companies that engage more with their employees and take extra efforts to communicate with the teams, have witnessed better results in terms of productivity as well as employee satisfaction. 

That said, a large number of employees, who take pride in being associated with their organizations, still refrain from speaking up fearing punishment or humiliation. 

72% keep schtum at workplace

A recent research, conducted by a team of experts at HappyPlus, revealed that nearly 72% of employees surveyed feel that they can't speak their heart out at workplace, despite taking pride in being associated with the organization. Most of the employees do not speak up due to the risk of punishment or humiliation.

In simple words, the ambiguity whether they can trust the organization and also feel included in the organizational set up, poses a big question on the psychological safety at work.

With the boundaries between work and life blurring and with new norms in terms of hybrid working gaining momentum, the most critical question – "How are the organizations building a culture of trust and inclusion with the new dynamics"–  remains unanswered. As a good leader, it is necessary to introspect the work culture and the environment.

What is psychological safety at work?

Psychological safety at work is an environment or culture where one can speak up without the risk of being punished or humiliated for doing so. Psychological safety is about removing fear from human interaction and replacing it with respect and permission.

Stages of psychological safety:

  • Inclusion Safety: Feel included and accepted
  • Learner Safety: Capable of learning and growing. Ask questions and seek constructive feedback
  • Contributor Safety: Participate and Contribute
  • Challenge Safety: Challenge status quo. Ask for change, for a better tomorrow
  • To achieve psychological safety, inclusion is the first step.

Key findings of the research:

  • 47% employees feel discriminated at work
  • 62% tend to indulge in frequent arguments with superiors/ colleagues
  • 55% feel workplace environment is not very pleasant and/or safe
  • 87% feel they can perform much better if given more time
  • 62% people believe that they do not get enough time for their family and other personal needs

Many organizations have started talking about employee wellbeing and psychological safety at workplace and trying to bring a cultural shift to address the changing dynamics of employee experience. But is this awareness enough? The gap between employer awareness and employee experience is significantly big and alarming. One needs to delve into the possible reasons for this gap.

In the field of organizational research, psychological safety is identified as a critical factor in recognising experiences such as voice, teamwork, team learning, collaboration and organizational learning. Leadership and management are noteworthy factors as they have higher correlation with the above mentioned data points. 

Psychological Safety & Pandemic 

Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, psychological safety has become a timely topic, given the hybrid work culture and the rise of questions on inclusion in this virtual world. The new dynamics have given birth to a complete new definition of relationships between management and employees at the workplace where both are expected to assimilate perspectives, share ideas and collaborate to achieve shared goals for the success of the organization, but from a distance. 

Each element of high-quality relationships are correlated with employee experiences at workplace. A positive experience of work relationship is the driving force to facilitate the outcome of inclusive behaviours and set a podium to nurture healthy behaviours and habits. This, in turn, will help build a trust and high performance led culture for the organization and boost its growth.

Challenging the status quo or contributing and/or participating in the innovation is the vital force in boosting organization’s performance. However, the HappyPlus research findings showed that individuals, quite often, do not work in environments where they feel safe to speak up or in 

Environments where they have better control over their work. In order to build psychological safety at workplace, it is important to see whether organizations have the willingness to stop and whether they intend to do anything in that regard.

Such planned pauses, for consideration, foster the habit of regular check-up of the health of the organization. Building an effective balance between the holistic intent and the organization and employee experience requires constant practice and vigilance. It also calls for an openness for positive habit development and a culture of ownership at both the organizational and individual levels. Once these habits are built and solidified in the individual, team and management behaviour, organizations will be able to make progress against remarkable outcomes.


The second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic has tested all levels of emotional, social and economic strengths. The pandemic has redesigned the definition of work and life and also the importance of mental wellbeing. Employees are a real asset for any organization to sustain business continuity. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us how presence or lack of psychological safety can be the make-or-break factor in the transformation journey of every organization. 

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Topics: Employee Relations, Employee Engagement, #GuestArticle, #Communication

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