Compliance Blog

4 Steps to Create Psychological Safety at Work and Improve Employee Retention

February 23, 2022 | Mark Hudson

Psychological Safety at Work

Attracting and retaining talent in today’s competitive job market is one of the top challenges facing organizations across industries. Creating a psychologically safe work culture can bolster retention efforts by creating a sense of belonging, where employees are empowered to speak up, feel valued and are supported by managers and co-workers.

Better compensation, benefits and work-life balance are often cited as the primary reasons why employees leave their job for another. However, surveys by McKinsey & Company found that the top factors employees cite for quitting are they didn’t feel valued by their organizations (54%) or their managers (52%) or because they didn’t feel a sense of belonging at work (51%). 

Another survey found that 89% of employees believe psychological safety at work is essential to individual and team performance, and that it’s the responsibility of business leaders to create a safe and respectful workplace.

Psychological safety strengthens team relations by encouraging employees to be their genuine selves at work and freely contribute ideas, voice concerns, and ask questions without being judged, embarrassed or made to feel inferior. 

These 4 steps can help organizations create greater psychological safety at work and increase retention:

1. Train everyone on psychological safety

Ongoing, behavior-based training raises awareness among team members of what it means to create a supportive, psychologically safe culture that rewards individual participation and team collaboration. When employees feel confident they can bring their whole selves to work and have a positive impact, they are happier, more likely to stay in their role and recommend their organization to others. 

2. Build deeper connections through communication

According to a Predictive Index report, communication is the leading skill employees value in managers, and the top skill employees most often feel their manager lacks. When managers actively listen to team members, express empathy, promote inclusion and promptly address employee concerns, they communicate that they appreciate employees and not just their work, and that their voices are heard and valued. 

3. Recognize each employee’s individual value

Never underestimate the power of “thank you.” Recognizing team members who show vulnerability by taking on a new challenge, offering an idea, giving honest feedback or sharing a mistake builds employee confidence that their contributions are important and that they play an essential role in team success.

4. Create personal growth opportunities for team members 

Giving employees opportunities to gain experience and learn new skills is essential to retaining, developing and promoting talent. Regularly discuss career objectives with employees and find opportunities for them to build the competencies and relationships needed to achieve their goals through stretch assignments, new roles and mentorship.

Traliant Insight

Employee retention can be improved when organizations provide a safe and supportive work environment for all team members. Workplace training to strengthen psychological safety increases employees’ sense of belonging and purpose at work and can increase their job satisfaction, engagement and performance.

Access a free trial of our Psychological Safety at Work course: