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What Is Psychological Safety?

To be honest, as a phrase psychological safety is a real turn off: flat and uninspiring. However, the content is diamond. Psychological safety is one the main factors that matters for team success – and for the organizational success consequently. Since the phrase itself doesn’t tell how important the issue we are talking about, we gathered together the most asked questions.

What is meant by psychological safety in the workplace?

Psychological safety in the workplace refers to the shared belief among team members that they can speak up, take risks, and express themselves without fear of negative consequences such as punishment or ridicule. This type of environment allows open communication, collaboration, and innovation, which improve team performance and job satisfaction. Research has shown that psychological safety influences employee engagement, job satisfaction, and productivity.

What psychological safety does not mean?

There are a lot of misconceptions about what psychological safety is. So, let’s correct the most common ones. Psychological safety DOESN’T MEAN:

  • Low standards
  • Protecting people from negative feedback or consequences of their actions
  • Environment where nobody ever experiences discomfort
  • Avoiding conflicts or difficult conversations.

How does psychological safety benefit teams and organizations?

Teams and organizations with high levels of psychological safety tend to have better communication, collaboration, innovation, and problem-solving abilities. Research has found that psychological safety is the most important factor in high-performing teams. Organizations with high levels of psychological safety also tend to have higher employee engagement and job satisfaction. Large-scale research by Gallup showed that psychological safety increased productivity by 12 %. A survey of Great Place to Work revealed that psychological safety was the No. 1 predictor of organization performance.

What are the consequences of a lack of psychological safety?

Negative consequences of low psychological safety in a workplace can be significant. We listed few of the remarkable consequences that can happen if team members don’t feel psychologically safe:

  • They may be afraid to speak up or share their ideas, which can stifle innovation and creativity.
  • They might feel anxious and stressed which can increase risk of burnout
  • Job satisfaction can decrease, absenteeism and turnover increase and overall team performance can drop.
  • At worst, low psychological safety can create a culture of blame and fear, which can damage relationships and undermine employees’ selfesteem.

How organizations and leaders can increase psychological safety?

[Remote] Team Builder helps organizations and leaders to create a psychologically safe workplace by promoting open communication, acting on feedback, encouraging risk-taking, and providing opportunities for growth and development. Using e.g. workshops, microlearning and research tools we give organizations the necessary tools for chancing their culture. Research has shown that leaders who display humility, authenticity, and transparency can foster psychological safety in the workplace.

How does diversity and inclusion relate to psychological safety?

Diversity and inclusion are closely related to psychological safety in the workplace. When team members feel that their opinions are valued and respected, regardless of their background or identity, they are more likely to feel psychologically safe. Research has found that diverse teams can have higher levels of creativity and innovation when there is a strong sense of psychological safety.

How can organizations measure psychological safety?

For sure! [Remote] Team Builder uses several ways to measure psychological safety, including employee surveys, focus groups, and observation of team interactions. We also use the Amy Edmondson Psychological Safety Assessment Tool which is a widely used survey tool that measures psychological safety across multiple dimensions.


Edmondson, A. C. (1999). Psychological safety and learning behavior in work teams. Administrative Science Quarterly, 44(2), 350-383.

Edmondson, A. C. (2002). The local and variegated nature of learning in organizations: A group-level perspective. Organization Science, 13(2), 128-146.

Nembhard, I. M. & Edmondson, A. C.  (2006) Making It Safe: The Effects of Leader Inclusiveness and Professional Status on Psychological Safety and Improvement Efforts in Health Care Teams. Journal of Organizational Behavior 27(7), 941 – 966

Tuckey, M. R., Bakker, A. B., & Dollard, M. F. (2012). Empowering leaders optimize working conditions for engagement: A multilevel study. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 17(1), 15-27.

Rock, D. (2013). SCARF in 2012: updating the social neuroscience of collaborating with others. Neuroleadership Journal, 4(1), 1-8.

Frazier, M. L., Johnson, R. E., & Huang, L. (2017). Psychological safety: A meta-analytic review and extension. Personnel Psychology, 70(1), 113-165.

Edmondson, A. (2018). The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth. John Wiley & Sons.