← Return to Posts

Empowering Psychologically Safe Communities

February 4, 2022 Misti Aaronson


In a psychologically safe workplace, team members and leaders agree not to ridicule, punish or shame others for speaking up – whether someone is sharing a wild idea, voicing unpopular opinions, or blowing the whistle on an unfair policy.

McKinsey concluded that a positive team climate is the most important driver of psychological safety. This is most likely to occur when leaders demonstrate supportive, consultative behaviors, and then begin to challenge their teams.

Yet, only 43% of business leaders demonstrate positive behaviors that promote this sense of safety.

The payoffs of having a psychologically safe workplace are huge and a precursor to innovative performance. Plus, psychological safety is a big contributor to whether or not employees stay or go. 

This is a big task for leaders – and now it’s even harder. The current state of the world may not always feel psychologically safe as cancel culture and censorship have taken a front seat. Depending on your beliefs and experiences, you may no longer feel safe to authentically express yourself. 

Free speech is yet again becoming a hot topic as all eyes are on the Joe Rogan and Spotify debacle.


The question isn’t whether or not we should support Joe Rogan’s right to interview people with opinions that are contrary to the narrative, but – is our right to free speech still a right and how does this impact how we feel about psychological safety in the workplace? 

Three critical things to keep in mind:

  • Psychological safety begins at the top.
  • Invite people to opt-in, but never pressure anyone to participate.
  • Agree on ground rules – for example, people may disagree, but no one should ever be directive or force their beliefs on others.

Level Up the Care Quotient

The more people use their voices to speak up, the more leaders can turn their companies into a force for good.

We’re inspired by organizations that are rising up to tackle big issues – everything from paid parental leave to burnout. 


“The US is one of only six countries in the world not to offer paid family leave at a national level. Even in the private sector, only about a quarter of US workers have access to it.”

After hearing hundreds of stories from theSkimm community about their experience with paid family leave, theSkimm launched a petition to fight for better paid leave for all.

The #ShowUsYourLeave movement has been spreading like wildlife across our newsfeed – and with good reason.

As companies like Etsy, John Hancock, and Pinterest broadcast their family leave and support benefits, they are helping keep this important conversation going.

Looking for ways you can level up your company policies?

  • 24 weeks paid leave at birth or adoption, plus a transition week upon return (Dropbox)
  • $10,000 for family planning benefits, including fertility planning, surrogacy support, adoption services, and care navigation (Instacart)
  • $1,000 Amazon e-gift credit for new-family essentials (Zillow)
  • Bereavement leave for pregnancy loss (theSkimm)
  • Parents & caregivers communities for connection and support (Asana)
  • In-home and center-based backup child, adult, and elder care (Estée Lauder)

Learn More


Prevent Burnout & Boost Recognition

Recognition isn’t a set it and forget it type of exercise. The most impact comes from recognition as a habit instead of an afterthought.

When there’s no organizational strategy for employee recognition, the odds of burnout increase by 29%.

Companies that prioritize recognition see happier teammates, higher performance, and less turnover.

Here are a few examples of perfect opportunities for some good ol’ recognition:wins-mindset-career-life-events

There’s a lot more that goes into making recognition a sustainable and meaningful part of your culture. That’s why we cooked up this blog post to set you and your team up for success.

Read More

Join our Stories that SHIFT Newsletter

Subscribe to get your dose of inspiration, stories, resources, and entertainment delivered straight to your inbox. You’ll be happy you did!

New call-to-action

TOPICS: Workplace Innovation, leadership, stories that shift