In Fiona’s most recent message on the summary of June’s Pulse Check findings, she shared that safety and violence continues to be the highest priority for staff and medical staff.

Physical safety is paramount. Much work is being done, has been done, and is being planned to ensure that staff and medical staff feel physically safe when coming to work at Providence.

Equally important is honouring the importance of feeling emotionally and culturally safe at work.

We use the term “psychological safety” a lot. But what exactly does that mean, and what does it look like in action?

Supporting Psychological Safety at PHC

Launching in fall 2022, leaders will soon be able to access psychological safety training. 

This practical program will help give leaders the tools needed to increase the psychological safety of their teams in a way that staff feel included, and safe to challenge the status quo – all without fear of being embarrassed, marginalized, or retaliated against in any way.

If you’d like more information on this, please email Conor MacPhee, Violence Prevention and Wellness Manager.

Defining Psychological Safety

Essentially, psychological safety is the belief that you won’t be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes.

When this is a shared belief held amongst team members, there is a common understanding that others on the team will not embarrass, reject, or punish someone for speaking up.

And this means people can feel comfortable being themselves.

Here are some questions to consider when evaluating psychological safety:

  • Do you truly believe that all people are created equal, and do you accept others and welcome them into your team simply because they’re human beings, even if their values differ from yours?
  • Without bias or discrimination, do you encourage others on your team to learn and grow, and do you support them in that process even when they lack confidence or make mistakes?
  • Do you offer others on your team autonomy to contribute in their own way as they demonstrate their ability to deliver results?
  • Do you consistently invite others on your team to challenge the status quo in order to make things better, and are you prepared to be wrong based on an open, curious, and learning mindset?

Psychological safety exists when people feel included, safe to learn, safe to contribute, and safe to challenge the status quo – all without fear of being embarrassed, marginalized, or reprimanded in any way.  Psychological safety reflects the natural pattern of human needs in social settings, and is the central measure of team’s culture, health, and vitality.

If you’d like to read up on psychological safety, here are two articles that may be of interest:

  • This paper, “Making it Safe” looks at the effects of leader inclusiveness and professional status on psychological safety and improvement efforts in health care. If you have the time to review (it may take a few sittings at 27 pages!), it’s definitely worth a read.
  • Psychological safety is a critical factor in work environments that require staff to integrate perspectives, share information and ideas, and collaborate to achieve shared goals. Read up on the history of psychological safety, assessment of current practices and suggestions for future directions in “Psychological Safety: The History, Renaissance, and Future of an Interpersonal Construct“.
  • In case you missed it, last week we went over things that we’re dong to create a healthy workplace at PHC.

In a profession as passionate and personal as health care, coming to work and feeling safe enough to be one’s self fully is invaluable. Which is what makes the work that we’re doing here at PHC to support and bolster staff’s psychological safety so important.

What are some ideas you have for psychological safety resources, tools, training, etc. that could be useful in your area? Please send any ideas and all feedback to:

Providing the best care to the people we serve is dependent on our own health and wellness. We are working to deliver a comprehensive Staff and Medical Staff Wellness Action Plan, to help us create a healthy and safe work environment where everyone can flourish. If you have a wellness idea that could make a big difference to you and your colleagues, please send it to Ideas: Forward. And if you have a couple of minutes, we would so value your feedback on current wellness resources available to you.