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The importance of creating an organisational culture which allows staff to open up


The workplace has evolved from being a place where employees simply turn up, do their job and go home each day. People want more. They want job satisfaction – to feel valued, supported and engaged. Most of all, they want to feel safe. Not just safe from physical injury, but safe from humiliation, bullying and punishment for things that are out of their control. As such, more and more organisations are focusing on psychological safety – creating a safe environment for employees to open up.

In this article, we’re looking at how psychological safety can benefit your organisation, particularly its impact on mental wellbeing

What is psychological safety?

Psychological safety is about creating an environment where employees feel comfortable being themselves. They aren’t scared to share their ideas or concerns, ask questions, or admit mistakes. A psychologically safe environment is one where everyone feels accepted and respected, and employees can open up without fear of negative comments.


The importance of psychological safety at work

 Creating a psychologically safe workplace can deliver significant benefits to any organisation. Employees are more likely to share ideas that can lead to increased efficiency and productivity, reduced cost and higher customer satisfaction.

Mistakes will be identified faster as employees won’t feel scared to come forward. Discussions around these mistakes can prevent them from happening again, and teams can learn from mistakes together. You’ll also create a more inclusive workplace where employees feel able to open up about sexuality, religion, visible or invisible disabilities, mental health and any personal challenges without fear of discrimination. And all of this will lead to a more cohesive team and greater employee engagement.

How psychological safety impacts employee wellbeing

 When employees don’t feel safe at work, it impacts their wellbeing and can cause anxiety, stress and even depression. An employee may have made a mistake but doesn’t have the confidence to share their mistake. Rather than opening up and finding a way to fix their mistake, they may be losing sleep over it. Perhaps they are distracted by it, leading to more mistakes and more stress and anxiety.

Or you may have employees who don’t feel comfortable being themselves at work. Perhaps they have overheard colleagues make derogatory comments that make them feel like they won’t be accepted. Maybe there are cases of bullying or harassment going undetected because there are no discussions around what is and isn’t acceptable for different people. Someone may think they are engaging in workplace banter, but that banter could be hurtful to someone else.

If an employee shares an idea and is made to feel stupid, they’ll be less likely to share ideas in the future. They may feel undervalued and demotivated if they aren’t being listened to. All these things impact mental wellbeing. But a psychologically safe workplace eliminates these problems. Mistakes are identified and rectified without unnecessary stress or anxiety. Employees engage in conversations about respect, boundaries, and what they find acceptable and unacceptable. They educate each other, learn from each other, and hold each other accountable.

And ideas are free flowing – employees feel listened to and valued, even if their ideas aren’t acted on.

Employees are happier at work. And feeling happy at work can hugely impact our mental wellbeing. To create a psychologically safe environment, you must make psychological safety part of your company culture. Every employee has to be invested in supporting their colleagues to open up. Managers should encourage employees to share ideas and concerns and come forward with mistakes.

Barriers to psychological safety

One of the biggest barriers to psychological safety is a lack of awareness. Awareness around topics such as inclusivity, diversity and mental health. Employees who don’t know how to support their colleagues will find it harder to open up. Equally, if they don’t know how to respond when they are struggling, or when they spot signs that someone else is struggling, they will find it harder to speak up.

Investing in awareness training gives your employees the tools and confidence to start meaningful discussions and create a supportive culture. It also demonstrates to your employees that you are invested in their wellbeing, making them feel more positive about opening up.

Mental Wellbeing

Focus on Mental Wellbeing

Mental wellbeing and psychological safety go hand in hand. If people feel comfortable talking about mental wellbeing, they’ll start to open up about the things that impact their mental health and be more aware of things that may impact their colleagues’ mental health. Meritec’s Focus on Mental Wellbeing product is an interactive, digital course designed in collaboration with a leading mental health expert. It provides learners with information on how they can improve their mental fitness and spot signs their colleagues may be suffering. It also gives information on how to respond, giving them the confidence to have discussions around mental wellbeing.


This is an excellent step towards creating a psychologically safe workplace and a culture that allows staff to open up.


Sector-specific versions of our Focus on Mental Wellbeing course are available for councils, housing associations, schools and private businesses. Our courses are SCORM compliant to work with your existing digital learning platforms, or you can host them on Meritec’s fully customisable LMS. And with a one-off set-up fee and a monthly subscription fee that covers all your employees, our digital courses are extremely cost-effective.


If you’d like to learn more about our digital learning platform or any of our courses, get in touch to book a demo.