Dealing with an issue like creating psychological safety at work for your team was probably not on your radar six months ago. Many small business owners did not tune into the psychological needs of their workers much until now. But employees and owners alike are coming to work each day with a lot on their shoulders. This year has arguably been one of the toughest on record.
It would be nice to think that everyone could just leave their baggage at the door as soon as they show up to work. Most small business owners have their employees working remotely so that is harder to do. The psychological line that was work and home life is now blurred—employees log in from their houses instead of firing up their laptops in the office. Your employees are inviting their office mates into their personal spaces every day.
Psychological Safety At Work Starts With Why It’s Needed
Creating psychological safety for employees begins with one premise; people do more when they feel safe. We’re not just talking about Kumbaya around the Zoom conference table. There are significant business reasons to focus on psychological safety at work. To understand why it’s needed, we have to begin with the workplace culture that currently exists. How open were your employees to discussing new ideas before the pandemic? Was your office a place of open discussion and sharing of ideas? If not, why?
When employees feel safe and valued, they are more willing to be honest, and open. Employees who are welcomed to contribute their feedback will be more inclined to psychologically invest in your company’s mission. If you want your employees to give you their all, you have to let them know it’s okay to do it in all its forms.
Employees who are psychologically invested in their work will outperform any other employee any day of the week. Their psychological attachment gives their work more purpose than just getting a paycheck. Invested employees are naturally driven to see their employer succeed. Everyone wants to be part of something great. It starts with creating a psychologically safe workplace culture.
Being A Leader For A Positive Change Starts With Honesty
Creating a culture of psychological safety at work begins with the leader. Many small business leaders were not in favor of employees working remotely at all before the pandemic. And while other small business leaders might have allowed it before, employees felt pressured to create unrealistic work environments to prove their work from home had merit. The panic of dogs barking in the background or a child interrupting a meeting was horrifying for all parties to envision. Being thrust immediately into a remote work environment only heightens the panic of performing well now.
If you voice negative feelings toward working from home, you can expect that your employees are still psychologically operating the same way. The first step in creating psychological safety at work is being honest with your team. Telling them that it’s hard to juggle work and home while working remotely will help them with the challenges too. Employees have kids attending school from home. They have pets that live in their workspaces. The doorbell sometimes rings when you are on an online meeting. That’s okay. The line from work to life is now an all-encompassing circle. Be the first to admit that and make it okay for your employees to do it too. Figure out how to work in reality, not try to hide what is and pretend it doesn’t exist once everyone logs into work.
Next, allow your employees to talk about how they fit their work schedule into their home schedule. There are unique challenges to getting work and life done at the same time. Some parents need to spend more time with kids who are doing schoolwork during business hours. Ask your employees how their work and life are doing. Be the first one to say, “How can I help make this work for you?” Employees will be much more balanced if they know they can trust their boss to let them tell the truth without negative consequences. Be flexible. Some employees may need to log off for a couple of hours and log on after dinner to finish up the day to make it all work. That’s okay. You’ll find you have better quality work when the pressure to be perfect is eliminated. Your employees are people. Let them know they have permission to be human and an employee at the same time.
Feeling Good About Work Includes Great Benefits
Your employees are dealing with a lot of stress and anxiety about the future. Long term tension creates mental health issues and physical symptoms. Open enrollment is coming soon. How is your healthcare coverage? Does it include things like mental health coverage and wellness benefits? These two types of coverage have never been more critical as they are now.
Small businesses that work with PEOs for benefits and healthcare coverage have found they can offer much more to their employees than what they found on their own. Many small group health plans do not offer these essential benefits. PEOs create a way for small businesses like yours to be able to afford them. You get more for less with a PEO. ‘
With psychological safety in the workplace being a vital means of success for your small business, wouldn’t it make sense to focus on it this year? If you’d like to find out more about how a PEO can work for your small business, we’d like to talk to you. Contact us today for a free consultation.