By Simon Brown-Greaves

Most business leaders now realise that one of their key responsibilities is to make sure they offer a psychologically safe workplace.

When individuals feel supported by their leaders and perceive their leaders have a good understanding of what they do and the risks inherent in their roles, people tend to perform and engage more effectively.

The ability of leaders to flex, shift direction and constantly create opportunities to listen to their people is critical to this.

The role of senior leadership groups in particular is to make sure they understand what the risk profile is for the organisation, to work with employees to understand those risks and how they play out, and then put in place plans that are all about preventing or mitigating those risks.

This can be through job design, good work practices and ensuring people are equipped to deal with the risks.

Leaders need to role model their involvement so that staff feel as though they are well supported and can visibly see that leaders are committed to their psychological safety.

A sound strategic approach to the psychological health of people will involve these four fundamental elements:

  • Asking do we actually understand, and have we analysed what the basis of the risk is? What is the inherent risk in the work that is done?
  • Risk prevention focused on mitigating those factors that could potentially have a negative impact on people’s wellbeing.
  • Building the capability of people to manage, address and respond to risks when they appear, and developing structures to deal with the risk when it emerges.
  • Considering what do we do post-event to support, respond and manage the fallout of that risk.

Leaders need to set the tone around the above elements and the cultural expectations of the workplace.

They should ensure that the non-negotiable nature of safety is tangible.

The other thing that senior leaders need to do is enable and ensure the organisation does its analysis well and that the plan is effective and evidence-based, whilst staff are consulted appropriately in its development.

Leaders must commit to evaluating and following up the agreed approach to the wellbeing of their people.

In our ‘Creating a psychologically safe workplace workshop‘, we teach you how to put in place visible, effective systems and processes and then be the champion of those elements.

This program will help ensure that you are passing down the decision making to the right levels and also empowering staff to deal with risks and issues on the ground.