Extract from “The Fearless Organization” by Amy Edmondson, Harvard Business School:
“Psychological safety exists when people feel their workplace is an environment where they can speak up, offer ideas, and ask questions without fear of being punished or embarrassed.
Psychological safety does not imply ease or comfort. In contrast, psychological safety is about candour and willingness to engage in productive conflict so as to learn from different points of view. The psychological experience of safety pertains to expectations about immediate interpersonal consequences. Psychological safety seems to “live” at the level of the group.”
Why is it important?
Aside from the immediate response – for human beings to thrive at their workplace – Edmondson cites compelling data that speaks straight to organisational performance metrics: “A 2017 Gallup poll found that only 3 in 10 employees strongly agree with the statement that their opinions count at work. Gallup calculated that by “moving that ration to six in 10 employees, organisations could realise a 27 percent reduction in turnover, a 40 percent reduction in safety incidents and a 12 percent increase in productivity.”
This data shows, which Edmondson goes on to expand, that there is a correlation between a strong sense of purpose (feeling that our opinions count) and feeling psychologically safe in the workplace, which speaks directly to the need for wholehearted leadership where purpose and inclusion are actively cultivated.
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