Organisations need to do more to ensure workplaces colleagues feel connected, according to a recent research report, which found that this is an important element in improving workplace psychological safety.
The 2019 Australian Workplace Psychological Safety Survey, which was conducted by R U OK?, took in 1093 Australian employees and found that 23 per cent do not currently do any activities to connect them with colleagues. One of the biggest barriers found was not having time due to workload.
R U OK? said this was concerning, considering leading suicidologist Dr Thomas Joiner’s work, which describes a lack of connection (or lack of belonging) as one of the three forces at play in someone at risk of suicide.
Workplace mental wellness expert and R U OK? Board Member Graeme Cowan is calling on workplaces to address this, pointing to both the social and economic benefits to organisations when a workforce feels connected and psychologically safe.
“A ‘psychologically safe’ workplace is characterised by a climate of interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people feel comfortable being themselves and to ask for help,” said Cowan.
“Organisational workload will always be a barrier, however those who create opportunities for employee connection such as morning teas or celebrations for birthdays foster a positive culture.”
While there are benefits to individuals and a duty of care from organisations, Cowan said psychologically safe teams have also been shown to be the most innovative.
The Australian Psychological Safety Survey is the result of a collaboration between R U OK? and Amy Edmondson, a thought leader on psychological safety and Novartis Professor of Leadership & Management at the Harvard Business School.
It found that only 28 per cent of respondents said they felt safe to take a risk in 2019 compared to 34 per cent in 2017.
The results demonstrate that more needs to be done to educate organisations on these benefits, to ensure all Australians are seeing the rewards of psychologically safe workplaces, said Cowan.
Kevin Figueiredo, GM Safety, Health and Wellbeing for Woolworths, recently spoke at R U OK?’s annual conversational leadership event about the mental health training Woolworths is currently rolling out nationwide.
“As Australia’s largest employer, the mental health of our team members is our number one safety, health and wellbeing priority,” said Figueiredo.
“In the past 12 months we have introduced new mental health programs and trained 16,000 team members across the group with the skills and knowledge to help peers showing signs of mental health issues.
“We recognise mental health is not just an issue for our teams but also friends and families, and we are committed to continuing to support innovative programs like R U OK? to keep these important conversations going.”
Article first published by the Safety Institute of Australia.