Imagine being asked this question and think about the first thing that comes to your mind.  

Is it the benefits and perks offered by a company, such as: 

🕔Flexible working hours 

✨Rewards programme 

👩🏿‍⚕️Private healthcare 

🧘🏽‍♂️Lunchtime yoga 

🥪Free lunch!

Or is it something else?  


Let’s stop for a moment to think about it. Although all the above perks and benefits are nice to have and, sometimes, must-haves… Can they alone make a great workplace? 

If we dig into it and think about all the workplaces we have worked at, what made the REAL difference were… 

  • The people.  👩‍💻👨‍💻
  • The environment. 🤝🏽
  • The way we were treated and supported.  🫶

The culture of a workplace is one of the most valuable commodities a business can have. 

And although perks and benefits are part of it, they are not the only elements.  


Steven Bartlett and Simon Sinek discuss exactly this, during episode 145 (The Number One Reason Why You’re Not Succeeding) of the podcast Diary of a CEO.

They mention how a culture of seeking and receiving feedback can improve team dynamics, the same way a culture where non ethical choices are encouraged or tolerated will contribute to a toxic environment and increase stress while negatively affecting people mental-health. 

This feeling of belonging, security and being heard, is referred to as psychological safety.  

Organisational behavioural scientist Amy Edmondson describes psychological safety as:  

“A belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up. 


Company culture plays a big part in how psychologically safe employees feel; after all, work is much more fulfilling when people know what goals they are working towards and feel they are having an impact.  

A pink umbrella with the words safety and space

So, why should businesses look at psychological safety? 

 Enhanced employee engagement – When employees feel safe at work it’s easier for them to engage with their job, their colleagues and the company’s customers. 

An inclusive workplace – Safe workplaces welcome diverse teams where everyone is included, united, connected and able to contribute.   

Improved employee well-being – Mental health is a big contributor to well-being. When people experience psychological safety at work, they don’t feel fear and feelings of unworthiness. Mentally healthy employees perform at an optimal level and avoid stressors.

Enhanced creativity and innovation – A feeling of safety allows the ‘out of the box’ thinking to flourish, it removes any feeling of judgement and encourages open dialogue.

Higher staff retention – Employees that feel listened to, respected and valued are less likely to leave.

Boosted team performance – Highly engaged employees and a collaborative and inclusive workplace culture boost team performance. 

A culture of continuous learning – Psychological safety promotes learning through experience. Creating an environment where ideas can be tested allows individuals to learn. Teams that feel unable to step out of their comfort zone, speak up or share an idea will only learn from those before them, and will never learn from the experiences they have had. 

Where to start?

Research by Chartered Institute for Personnel Development (CIPD) uncovered a series of practices that promote psychological safety in the workplace.

Encourage shared work goals.  

Demonstrate support through tangible and intangible resources for all employees.  

Display trust, and empathy and show that you care.    

Introduce more independence in decision-making and more flexibility in working hours.  

Guarantee open and participative two-way communication.  

Encourage information sharing.


Line managers continue to be pivotal in organisational success.  

Their ability to build and maintain psychological safety with their teams has huge benefits to the business. 

Change starts at the top.


The Motivation Agency has been helping businesses with their Employee Engagement programmes since 2006. 

Our e-Learning courses assist your leaders in developing the right skills to mentor their teams and create safe environments and a culture of belonging.  

Amber Orchard-Webb

Amber Orchard-Webb

Learning Specialist and e-Learning Developer at The Motivation Agency

Inspired by an early career as Skills and Development Advisor for Costa Coffee, I moved agency side to the role of Learning Specialist. I bring positivity, passion and a fresh perspective, to deliver the very best learning solutions to our clients.