Workplace wellness improves safety outcomes

August 28, 2023 By    

Healthy employees make better decisions, which result in a safer workplace. But mental health tends to receive less attention than physical health in estimations of workplace wellness.

Rob Holmes, CEO of Chelmsford Consulting, wants to change that. He coaches leaders on maintaining workplace wellness in demanding environments and shared his insights during a World LPG Association webinar.

Workplace climate

Photo: syahrir maulana/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Photo: syahrir maulana/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

A lot of companies talk about culture, but according to Holmes, culture may be less important than climate.

He defines workplace climate as employees’ perception of what it feels like to work in a place. Like culture, climate affects motivation, performance and financial results. But unlike culture, climate is malleable and can change quickly. It is affected most strongly by a manager’s daily actions. To create and maintain a healthy workplace climate, Holmes recommends managers:

  1. Learn to know the weather. What’s the atmosphere in team meetings? Each person is responsible for creating and maintaining the working climate. Teams must have the courage to bring up concerns or conflicts rather than waiting for someone else to fix them.
  2. Establish clear team agreements. A social contract, or a written document that describes how the group will work together, ensures productivity. All group members should sign off on the agreement. If someone transgresses, managers can draw attention to the social contract instead of making it a personal issue.

Psychological safety

Psychological safety refers to an individual’s belief that a team is safe for risk-taking. In a team with high psychological safety, teammates feel confident that no one on the team will embarrass or punish anyone else for admitting a mistake, asking a question or offering a new idea.

Google’s Project Aristotle found psychological safety to be the top indicator of a team’s performance.

To promote psychological safety, leaders and managers must be available, admit imperfection, disclose mistakes and failures, encourage team members to share both successes and failures, and support employees in asking for help, clarification and feedback.

“Employees who feel good about themselves make better and safer decisions,” explains Holmes.

Holmes asks these questions to identify problems in team dynamics:

  1. If you make a mistake in your team, will it be held against you?
  2. Are the members of your team able to bring up problems and tough issues?
  3. Do people on your team sometimes reject others for being different?
  4. Is it safe to take a risk on your team?
  5. Is it difficult to ask other members of your team for help?
  6. Would anyone on the team deliberately act in a way that undermines efforts?
  7. Are team members’ unique skills and talents valued and used?

He also shares five actions leaders can take to promote psychological safety:

  1. Make it an explicit priority.
  2. Provide opportunities and support for everyone to speak up.
  3. Establish norms for how failure is handled.
  4. Create space for new ideas.
  5. Embrace productive conflict.
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