Psychological safety in the workplace, in simple terms, is the belief that you are safe to take risks around your team — that you can speak your mind without fear. When employees feel psychologically safe, they are empowered to be themselves, and express new and different ideas without fear of reprisal.
Without psychological safety, however, fight-or-flight responses often hijack higher brain functions. Perspective and analytical reasoning are siphoned off. Instead, employees perceive pressure by a boss, a competitive coworker, or a dismissive subordinate as more than just workplace challenges; they’re experienced as threats. Team members begin to focus on the potential negative consequences of trying new things.
In addition to job competency, feedback, resources, productive relationships, and incentives, a supportive work environment is essential to motivate high performance and engagement, and psychological safety is key to this.
A positive mental and emotional state elicits trust, inclusion, belonging, curiosity, confidence and inspiration — enabling employees to be more resilient, motivated, persistent, and feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work.