June is National Safety Month. It’s a good time to remind ourselves that there are different types of safety and that we should all feel safe at work.
At TSS we are specialists in what you might consider the physical aspects of safety. Most of the time, we help businesses with policies, processes, resources and education to avoid workplace accidents, injuries or death. Of course, this includes supporting drug and alcohol policies that prevent employees who are under the influence from putting workplace safety at risk.
But there are other workplace safety issues that we consider equally as important. Employees must feel psychologically safe to be who they are at work, no matter their gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, age or ability. They should not fear aggression, humiliation, abuse, bullying, rejection or discriminatory behaviors from their co-workers or supervisors.
No Place for Harassment and Discrimination
This is psychological safety. According to a study conducted by Google, psychological safety is the single most important determinant of team success. When employees don’t feel safe in this way, they cannot reach their full potential as contributing members of a team. Increased absences from work, decreased productivity, low morale, lack of good communication, loss of focus may all be symptoms of someone not feeling psychologically safe at work. Not only do these symptoms impact physical safety (distracted or upset workers are more likely to be involved in accidents), but they also affect the bottom line, especially when multiple workers feel the same way.
This is why the National Safety Council asserts that protecting employees’ mental wellbeing is a safety issue and encourages businesses to adopt strategies and schedules that reduce stress and ensure employees get enough rest between shifts. NSC also calls on companies to commit to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) efforts for the sake of psychological safety.
“Minority workers commonly battle psychosocial safety hazards stemming from stress related to harassment, intimidation, communication difficulties, inadequate training and job insecurity,” David Daniels a veteran safety professional said in an article posted by NSC.
A Psychologically Safe Workplace Starts at the Top
Experts like Daniels, agree that creating a psychologically safe work culture starts at the top. Certainly, making efforts to increase diversity in the workplace by hiring women and minorities will impact workplace culture. But employers should also take care to ensure that all their employees are afforded equal treatment, consideration, training and advancement opportunities. This takes a self-examination and a willingness to review workplace practices and culture.
As employers, our goal should be to have a workplace environment where all employees feel accepted, respected and valued for their contributions. Everyone in the place of business should know that we don’t tolerate harassment and discriminatory behavior.
From there, it’s important to develop clear policies concerning harassment and discrimination. All employees should know about these and receive appropriate resources and education to help them comply.
We also recommend taking TSS’s online Harassment Training and perhaps requiring it for all employees. (A number of our clients include the course as part of their onboarding process for new employees.) The Harassment Training offers a clear and concise understanding of what constitutes harassment, how to report it and when to take action. The course provides:
• an overview of harassment in the workplace,
• explanations of types of harassment,
• information about the law and your responsibility as the employer,
• and strategies for preventing harassment in the workplace.
This can be the first step to transforming the culture of a business that may not always be psychologically safe for some of its employees and creating the kind of team that is motivated and encouraged to do its best work. For more information about TSS’s Harassment Training, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.