The highest-performing teams have one thing in common, and it’s not something that might be immediately obvious. It’s not productiveness or effective communication, or specific talents or skills. It’s psychological safety, according to robust data from Google.

What on earth is psychological safety at work, and why is it so important for teams to have it? Psychological safety is the feeling that you won’t be punished or reprimanded for making mistakes, voicing concerns, or posing questions. 

Psychological safety is not only an indicator of success. It’s also central for helping foster awesome group dynamics, strengthening relationships at work, and for spurring innovation and impressive advancements.

So yes, psychological safety is super important, and in order to make sure your team has it, there are steps you can take to boost your team’s psychological safety at work.


What’s the Deal With Psychological Safety?

Before we get into exactly how to improve your team’s feeling of psychological safety at work, let’s dive a little bit deeper into what it is exactly, and why it’s so important. As we touched on, psychological safety at work is that feeling that it’s okay to f-up, especially when you take chances on something (like you try something new and you make a mistake).

When teams don’t have psychological safety, there can be some pretty significant downsides. Team members might not ask important questions, won’t mention when ideas aren’t working, or even point out when things are flat-out wrong. An example? If a surgeon is about to start performing a surgery on the wrong side of the patient. Talk about a situation where you want to make sure there’s psychological safety in the workplace.

On the other hand, when teams do have psychological safety, they’re more likely to make better decisions as a whole, will likely have stronger relationships, and maybe most importantly, are more likely to be innovative. Innovation is crucial for big ideas to come to the table, and for that to happen, psychological safety is an absolute must.


How To Foster Psychological Safety at Work

Fostering psychological safety at work is a delicate task, because it involves many small actions, and the overall environment in your organization. Here are some ideas and practices you can implement in order to foster psychological safety at work:


  • Keep in Mind Accountability, Not Blame

In order for mistakes to be okay, you need to ensure that your team doesn’t feel like they’re being punished when mistakes do happen. Now obviously, some errors go beyond the category of “mistake” and are much more severe, but we’re not talking about those. We’re talking about your average run-of-the-mill mistake. 

In order for your team to feel like it’s okay to make these mistakes, cultivate an environment where there isn’t finger-pointing or blame when things happen. While accountability in the workplace is important, mistakes shouldn’t turn into a he-said-she-said situation. Instead of focusing on the mistake itself, and assigning blame, you can focus on positive changes that can be made, and take a forward-thinking approach of “What will be done next?”

  • Normalize Feedback All Around

In order for everyone to feel psychological safety at work, you should open the floor to feedback, both when it comes to the ideas from your team, and your own ideas. When your team shares their ideas and thoughts, they’re opening themselves up to criticism and feedback, which is a very vulnerable move. 

You should normalize a feedback process, ensure that it’s happening in a constructive way, and also lead by example. Make sure your team knows that they can give you constructive feedback in the same manner. 

  • Open the Floor, and Demonstrate Understanding

Another great way to build psychological safety at work is to open the floor when decisions are being made, and to take input from your team. This might look like a “round table” discussion where everyone gets to share ideas of feelings, or another similar type of forum. These open discussions will allow everyone to become comfortable sharing, contiburing, asking questions, and being part of the discussion.

During these times, it’s also important to demonstrate understanding. Instead of just taking an opinion and plowing onward, you can follow up with “If I’m understanding you correctly, what you mean is _____.” This will help ensure that ideas are being understood, that your people feel heard, that ideas are fleshed out, and that the floor is still open for follow-up discussions and feedback. 


  • Understand the Newer Challenges Hybrid Teams Face

When it comes to hybrid or remote teams, psychological safety is even more complex, and there are even more challenges to overcome. For example, employees have reported feeling alienated or discluded from the decision-making process over their choices to work remotely or from the office, with priority given to those who come into the office. This is an example of how someone might feel “unsafe” based on their choice.

In order to combat these challenges, managers can take steps to create an environment where the playing field is equal, whether your team member is in-person or not. Equal opportunities should be given to team members based on factors such as skill and job role, not location.

You also need to tune in to little comments other team members might make, such as “We really missed you when you were working from home.” With hybrid or flexible teams, there are endless reasons why someone might choose to WFH, including health issues, family concerns, and even just personal preference.

Employees need to feel psychological safety in order for remote and hybrid teams to feel strong, connected and cohesive. 

This aspect to psychological safety is rapidly developing and ever-changing, but the gist of it is that leaders need to take into account the challenges hybrid teams face when they’re working to foster psychological safety.

  • Consider Activities That Help Build Trust and Strengthen Relationships

Stronger teams who communicate better are going to have a better sense of psychological safety. It’s likely that you’ve been part of a team or department before where there was a sense of unity, people got along, and genuinely enjoyed each other’s company. In order to help your team improve communication and their interpersonal relationships, look into activities that can help you accomplish these goals.

Especially in the era of COVID-19 and remote teams, your people are likely itching for amazing opportunities to connect, unwind, and just have fun together. We know for a fact that excellent team building activities can tangibly revitalize the workplace

In order to build trust and strengthen relationships with hybrid and remote teams, virtual team building activities are definitely the way to go. 


Hi ?, we’re Kabloom, and we’re experts when it comes to virtual team building activities. These events can help your team connect, have fun, unwind together, and ultimately develop and strengthen psychological safety, and they’re specifically designed for your hybrid or virtual team. From virtual karaoke that will have everyone belting their favorite songs, to unwinding with team yoga, we have virtual events for every team.

Interested in learning how our virtual team builders can help strengthen your team’s sense of psychological safety? Talk with one of our experts today to schedule a free demo.