Being and Belonging at Work: Why it matters.

Finding Safety at Work

In the past, safety at work was mostly about dealing with things like chemicals or heavy machinery. Although physical safety is extremely important, it’s actually only one of four types of safety that an employee needs to feel.

The 4 Types of Safety

Does a person feel safe physically in their work environment. A current concern centers around returning to the physical office. Do employees feel safe with regards to Covid-19 protocols?

Does a person feel that the environment is too emotionally taxing? Have you ever spent an hour just writing and rewriting an email, because you knew the person on the other end would take it badly? That’s an environment where emotional safety is at question.

People need to logically see where things are going in an organization. They should feel included and able to voice their opinions without being judged or resented for it.

How a person sees themselves and how that understanding compares that to the decisions being made by the organization, can be critical. Does a person feel like they can be their true self at work? If not, then that environment is not psychologically safe for them.

Leaders and organizations need to consider all 4 types of safety when working with their employees. If someone does not feel safe at work, then you risk them not being themselves, not willing to participate, or not showing up at all. The 2019 People Management Report even found that managers who create psychologically safe work environments are less likely to experience employee turnover on their teams.

Manager Tips

Trust between employees, leaders, and anyone else in the organization is pivotal for feeling safe. If you can trust those around you, you’ll be much more likely to be yourself at work. Not sure where to start? Check out our course on building trust within your teams.

People will often fear failure, but failure is incredibly useful. A person cannot learn what to avoid unless they have made a mistake in the first place. This won’t always be possible in every industry, but allowing your employees to take calculated risks and learn from mistakes will help them feel like they are not constantly walking on eggshells.

Sometimes saying something as straightforward as “do you feel safe?” in an anonymous survey can be just as helpful. What feels safe to some might not feel safe to others. Although some of these best practices can apply to every organization, it’s also important to know exactly what your employees need to implement the right response.

Employee Tips

This is a very serious part of feeling fulfilled. If you feel that any of these types of safety are not being met, or your needs are not being considered, then it’s time to raise awareness. Let your manager (or their manager) know your concerns. This may sound extreme, but if nothing changes… leave! We spend too much of our lives working to not feel safe while we’re there. Your mental and physical health are more important than any one job.

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