Leaders of the healthiest and most engaged workplaces know the importance of offering as supportive an environment as possible. Creating a safe space for employee communication is vital to the success of the organization. However, “safe” doesn’t look the same to everyone. For some people, it’s a lack of discrimination, while for others, it’s being able to voice their opinion or talk about any issues without fear of reprisal. Knowing why safe spaces are essential and how to create them can increase more than a company’s bottom line. Since the more employees feel comfortable showing their emotions the more engaged they are, let’s look at how leaders can create a safe space in the workplace and why they should.
The Importance of Safe Spaces
Safe spaces are places where management does not just tolerate emotions — it welcomes them. How safe spaces make us feel is key to creating these refuges. When workers feel safe, they believe it’s acceptable being vulnerable, which leads to managers getting to the root of any problems instead of merely addressing the symptoms. Resolution is much more likely to occur in a safe space.
According to a study by Quantum Workplace, fewer than 40% of employees feel comfortable showing their emotions around senior leadership. If team members don’t feel their voice is being heard or that they can’t talk about things that are important to them, the likelihood of their staying with the organization is slim. If employees at any level fear that if they speak up they could be jeopardizing their job or career, their motivation to stay with the business decreases. This belief also directly affects their productivity and morale.
Now that the importance of creating a haven for workers to be able to speak freely has been explained and the consequences of not doing so detailed, how can leadership create a safe space for employee communication?
Creating Safe Spaces
Once leadership understands how creating safe spaces for their workers improves communication, determining how to build a culture that encourages employees to come forward in order to discuss problems is the next step. A few actions that managers can take now include:
- Scheduling frequent employee check-ins so workers learn that they can discuss whatever might be on their minds – whether it’s project timeline concerns, coworker friction, or even personal anxieties.
- Actively listening to what worries your team members and ensuring that you are clear about the issues before working together to solve them.
- Encouraging collaboration so that all those involved in an organization are part of the team.
- Practicing empathy, which grants permission to employees to bring up feelings, rather than just problems.
More Than an Open Door
Many leaders make sure to let their team members know they have an “open door policy,” implying that anyone can come to them for any reason. However, too many employees have found this to be a hollow invitation, with Management saying one thing and doing another – or simply doing nothing at all. If you are looking for help in creating a safe space in your company so that all employees can – and do – come to you knowing they will be heard, contact me so we can build that space together so you can grow your business.