How Psychological Safety Can Improve Employee Engagement

Did you know that employee engagement is one of the most written about, debated and discussed topics that a lot of companies struggle with? It is also no surprise that the organizations that struggle with it have it in their top five priorities to be addressed. 

This is part one of a series of articles we will write about to help you discover best practices that you can leverage that will require little to no financial investment for the organization except your time, commitment, and focus to improve employee engagement through your own leadership effectiveness.

The Hard Facts

According to Gallup's State of the Global Workplace 85% of employees are not engaged. This means that the majority of workforce around the world are either viewing their workplace negatively or only doing what they have to do to make it through the day, with little to no emotional attachment to their work.

Research shows that less than 25% of employees are fully motivated and productive. In service-based industries, that number is alarmingly only 15%. 

Did you know that an employee’s relationship with their direct manager is the single most important factor influencing engagement and the number one reason people leave organizations?

Engaged employees are 85% more efficient at their work; are 10 times less likely to take sick leave and have 50% more of a sense of getting things done. 

So how can you as a leader directly improve your employee engagement levels? It starts by creating a collaborative and open environment where employees feel psychologically safe to do their best.

Create More Engagement Through Psychological Safety

Successful leaders deflect attention away from themselves and encourage others to voice their opinions. They are highly skilled at making others feel safe to speak up and confidently share their perspectives and points of view. They foster and create an open and approachable environment and they know what each employee needs to feel safe to just be themselves without judgement or repercussions. That is how we as leaders create psychologically safe and open work environments for our people.

The latest McKinsey research indicates that a positive team climate in which team members value one another’s contributions, care about one another’s well-being, and have input into how the team carries out its work is the most important driver of a team’s psychological safety.

Think about it – what if your employees were afraid or did not care to share their thoughts and perspective? What impact would that have on your results and overall engagement?  

Let me bring this point to life for you through my personal experience.   

Early in my career, I worked for a startup company that sold me on how entrepreneurial and employee focused the organization was and how it was a great place for a new university graduate to start a career, so I jumped in with both feet. The individual who interviewed me did a good job selling me on the culture and how I could create a successful career for myself provided I worked hard and was dedicated.  

I quickly came to realize that the environment was quite the opposite of what I had been led to believe, and the most Senior Executive in the company was a dictator, who wanted to control everyone and everything because it was his company, after all. He shall remain nameless as will the organization but imagine the impact it had on the business.  

I experienced firsthand the command-control culture that was established, and we were not encouraged to ask questions, let alone challenge status quo. We started to lose good people, we struggled to meet our results and people, including me, were afraid to voice our opinions.  

Let us fast forward just 12 months after I accepted the job – the company declared bankruptcy and good people lost their jobs. Think about what the outcome could have been if the leadership team created a safe and open environment where people felt included and could voice their perspectives. We could have had a fighting chance at surviving and eventually thriving if we were shown value by being included. Collectively, we could have figured out how to solve problems and grow the business.

Creating a collaborative, open and psychologically safe environment is one of the many things that you can do to drive employee engagement and results for your organization. It is all about people, and having an engaged workforce makes the difference between struggling and achieving success.  

What are you doing to drive the level of employee engagement you desire for your team and business? Are you engaging your employees and asking for feedback and insight or are you to busy telling them what to do?

If you'd like to explore these concepts further, feel free to contact me at 1-855-871-3374 or send me an email at We would love to hear from you!

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