Psychologically safe work places are ‘most productive and happiest’

Travel firms that create workplaces offering ‘psychological safety’ will be the most productive and have the happiest staff, the Travel Weekly People Summit was told.

Key note speaker Dr Amanda Potter, founder of talent consulting business Zircon and a chartered psychologist, stressed the need for travel firms to have the ‘right climate of trust’ and diverse teams, particularly at a time of high debt and stress levels in the work force.

Psychological safety is used to describe a workplace where employees feel comfortable enough to speak up, she said, from asking questions to acknowledging and learning from mistakes.

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She said: “Trust is more likely to create a foundation of psychological safety. Do you feel you can speak up [at work]?

“If we can create an environment of psychological safety there will be higher productivity and staff will be happier, more engaged and have more fun.”

She added: “If we are not feeling psychologically safe, we stop thinking for ourselves, we defer to the leaders. If we are lacking psychological safety, we create environments of anxiety.”

Work places that do not offer this safe environment are likely to have staff that “become wall flowers or defer decisions” to the leaders.

Hybrid working environments have the lowest levels of psychological safety whereas teams who spend more time together in an office have the highest, she said, noting the importance of the “water cooler situation” where colleagues chat while getting a drink at work.

“Creating environments for people to have real conversations is really important, whether it’s virtual coffee chats or physical time,” she added.

She stressed the need for teams to be diverse and for companies to recruit different staff, especially different generations.

“Diverse teams create safe environments. If we hire more diversity you are increasing the innovation and problem solving than if you hire all clones. The greatest way to bring diversity into a team is age,” she said, adding: “We should be working with people who are irritants because they innovate more.”

Potter also warned that company bosses and managers could undermine psychological safety as a result of their leadership style.

“Managers who are working the hardest and have the most relentless goals create the most toxic environments because they try the hardest. They create an environment where they do not want to fail and people want to please and are cautious to trust, whereas psychologically safe teams are ones where people speak up,” she said.

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