It is often difficult to recognize workplaces that pose psychological threats to employees. These workplaces harbor conditions that put stress on employees and can exacerbate existing mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Like physical injuries, psychological trauma can make an employee stay home from work and become less productive in the workplace.
Recognizing a Safe Work Environment
How supervisors interact with their subordinates sets the tone for a workplace’s psychological safety level. When employees fear their supervisors, they cannot produce at the same level as they would in a psychologically safe workplace.
In a psychologically safe workplace, employees feel empowered to question the status quo and to discuss their observations and critiques of a company or its policies to their superiors. Asking for help in this type of environment is encouraged and met with useful guidance, rather than used to justify mistreatment of the employee.
Mental health is tied closely to physical health. Mentally healthy individuals are more likely to prioritize their physical health by seeking medical treatment when necessary and maintaining healthy habits. When an individual is not mentally healthy, their likelihood of developing physical ailments increases.
Improving Psychological Safety in the Workplace
The importance of psychological safety in the workplace first gained academic traction in the 1990s when a Harvard researcher examined it in an essay. In the years that followed, companies in various countries continued the discussion and adopted policies to promote psychological well-being in the workplace.
In a psychologically safe workplace, individuals feel comfortable taking interpersonal risks. They also feel like they receive valuable feedback, recognition for their accomplishments, supportive dialogue from others in the workplace, and an equitable, appropriate work distribution.
In the UK, an organization known as Wellbeing Works is working alongside companies to improve psychological safety by integrating changes to management styles and cultural attitudes in the workplace. Wellbeing Works found that in many of the companies it studied, 40 to 45 percent of employee absences were due to psycho-social factors, rather than physical factors. Psycho-social factors include stress and anxiety. Based on these results, Wellbeing Works argues that psychological safety needs to be prioritized at the board level in workplaces.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Gross Work with Clients Suffering from Psychological StressIf your work is being negatively affected by controllable factors in your workplace, contact a Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyer at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Gross. To schedule a free initial consultation, complete our online form or call 215-512-1500.