Human Resources




4 drivers of psychological safety at the workplace

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Great Places To Work’s (GPTW) Asia Insights Report released yesterday revealed ‘psychological safety’ as a key factor in successful teams and organisations.

In collaboration with the Singapore Management University (SMU), GPTW surveyed more than 800 organisations with over 400,000 employee voices represented across the Asia Pacific. The study aimed to identify the critical element that companies need to focus on to better navigate disruptions and to stay competitive in a rapidly evolving digital economy.

Across Asia Pacific, a clear and positive link has been found between high levels of ‘psychological safety’ and a strong teamwork culture that contributes to organisational, operational and business outcomes.

‘Psychological safety’ is defined in terms of employees’ perceptions of a mentally and emotionally healthy workplace, and of leaders’ ability to recognise and accept honest mistakes. It had 10 times the impact on teamwork relative to all other organisational climate factors combined, even more than remuneration.

The key drivers of psychological safety differentiating the best workplaces from the rest include:

The behavioural integrity of leaders

  • Employees perceive leaders’ integrity based on the management’s delivery of promises, how management’s actions match their words, and how honest and ethical management is in business.

Organisational support

  • This is defined by how people are encouraged to balance work life and personal life, and how people are offered training or development to further themselves professionally.

The strength of relationship networks

  • This is based on whether management genuinely seeks and responds to suggestions and ideas, and how people care about each other at the company.

In line with that, these are the areas of business that need to be reorganised for companies to thrive and remain competitive:

Assess your team environment

  • Carefully assess the team profiles within your organisation and consider this against the backdrop of organisational culture and country-specific peculiarities.

Conduct a sense check to identify gaps

  • As seen in the report, the behavioural integrity of leaders has a pronounced effect on employees’ perceptions and mindsets.
  • Organisational support and healthy relationship networks also play a significant role and should be assessed for gaps.

Invest time in clear action plans to shape cultures

  • This is a critical yet under-prioritised aspect of organisational development. A culture with a high level of psychological safety can positively impact team performances, then long-term business outcomes.

Provide role models and clear guidelines for desired behaviour

  • In the initial stages of the change process, recruit advocates to deliver key messages, demonstrate desired behaviour and support management efforts. Management encouragement can go a long way in building awareness and changing expectations.

Adopt a long-term view of success

  • Celebrate quick wins but also commit to sustained, long-term efforts to achieve meaningful and effective change at all levels. Organisation leaders must set the stage and lead the way in creating an environment with a sense of psychological safety. 

On this note, while it is important to encourage a sense of team recognition, it is also important to recognise employees for their individual achievements to continue motivating them.

Photo / 123rf

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