We’ve just kicked off a new decade. This is a period of unprecedented technological disruption in which many leading HR influencers agree that creating a positive employee experience is the key to boosting everything from organizational productivity to retention levels

Is there a proven way to ensure that your people’s experiences at your company motivate them enough to exert greater efforts, innovate, and improve productivity? Yes, by encouraging your best and brightest to think outside the box, and even make mistakes without fear of being embarrassed or even terminated.

How psychologically speaking your mind raises productivity

The results of a landmark study on team performance by Google revealed that the highest-performing teams have one thing in common: psychological safety, the belief that they won’t be punished for making a mistake. Other studies back this up, showing that productive companies tend to be built around cultures of psychological safety that actively encourage risk-taking, speaking your mind, creativity, and questioning the status quo. 

A culture of psychological safety is an innovation incubator

On the other hand, a workplace culture where people don’t feel safe to experiment, disagree with their colleagues and supervisors, or propose radical new ways of doing things makes it much more difficult for a company to innovate.

And… innovation matters. A lot. In 2020, it’s not enough for a company to rely on a core set of competencies, only making incremental improvements. We live in what’s known as the Innovation Economy, where agile thinking and disruptive new products and services can give your company an edge in connecting to new, untapped markets. A company that puts a premium on innovation is much more likely to thrive in this kind of economy, even though the process may not be as clearly defined as it used to be.

How to create a psychologically safe workplace

Innovation is based on trial and error. Complex problems can only be solved through constant experimentation, intense periods during which uncertainty reigns. But psychologically safe teams embrace this uncertainty since mistakes made along the way aren’t failures to be ashamed of, but learning opportunities to embrace. Here are some helpful hints to transform your company  into a hothouse of new ideas, trailblazing services, and game-changing products:

But it’s more than just asking questions: it’s how you ask them. People avoid conflict, especially at work. That’s why it’s so important to create a workplace culture that promotes a healthy kind of conflict. This means asking questions in a way that allows your people to feel that you respect them and are debating their ideas rather than judging them because of their ideas

  1. Your team leaders need to present (not only physically)
  2. People who don’t feel that their team leaders pay attention when they speak will tune out. Your team leaders can’t be ghosts in your company’s machine. They need to actively engage with their team members, both during and between department meetings. The consequences of a disengaged workforce are dire.

  3. Promote the airing of creative differences
  4. But it’s more than just asking questions: it’s how you ask them. People avoid conflict, especially at work. That’s why it’s so important to create a workplace culture that promotes a healthy kind of conflict. This means asking questions in a way that allows your people to feel that you respect them and are debating their ideas rather than judging them because of their ideas

  5. Your people are the ends, not the means
  6. A vital, productive, happy workplace is one where people don’t feel like they’re only valued because of the financial outcomes they help generate for their companies. Such amanagerial approach will only suck your people dry. A psychologically safe work environment is one where your people’s sometimes wacky opinions are appreciated, not only their ability to hit certain deadlines or quarterly goals.

It’s a matter of trust

When it comes down to it, a workplace that focuses on the psychological safety of its people is one that encourages team members to talk openly without fear of reprisals. HR departments that are able to create an environment where people truly trust one another with even their most hairbrained schemes will watch their companies thrive in an economy that rewards innovation over efficiency. 


from Stephanie Stevens

Stephanie is Content Marketer at Hibob. She has a background in Clinical Psychology and Crisis Management, and enjoys abstract painting and watching horror films in her spare time. She believes that people can connect with themselves, their peers, and the world around them through creative writing, helping them foster a deeper sense of self and their life goals in the process.