How does psychological safety improve engagement and performance?

1. At Google, project Aristotle found that psychologically safety was the critical factor explaining why some teams out-performed others (Duhigg, 2016). Google identified 180 teams to study and conducted hundred of interviews and surveys. The research team found that “psychological safety was by far the most important factor. It was the underpinning of the others.” . It impacted multiple outcome metrics, surfaced for different kinds of teams across the organisation and showed consistent, robust statistical significance. Individuals on teams with higher psychological safety are less likely to leave Google, they’re more likely to harness the power of diverse ideas from their teammates, they bring in more revenue, and they’re rated as effective twice as often by executives.

2. Psychological safety increased company performance in a sample of 47 mid-size German firms in both industrial and service industries. Performance was measured in two ways: change in return on assets and executive ratings of company goal achievement (Baer and Frese, 2003).

3. Data from 245 members of 60 research and development teams in Taiwanese technology firms found that psychologically safe teams out performed others (Huang and Jiang, 2012).4. Psychological safety has been shown to help virtual teams manage challenges of geographic dispersion. A study of 14 innovation teams with members dispersed across 18 nations. The study showed that psychological safety helps disperse teams navigate challenges. For example team members felt less anxious about what that others might think of them and were better able to communicate openly (Edmondson, 2018).

5. A study of nurses in a Belgian Hospital. Psychological safety encouraged nurses to report errors whilst also in forcing high standards for safety (Leroy et al. 2012).

6. A study of clinical staff at a large metropolitan US hospital found that psychological safety was related to commitment to the organisation and patient safety (Rathert et al. 2009).

 7. A study of Masters students participating in 195 teams in a French university found teams which were diverse in expertise performed well when psychological safety was high and badly otherwise (Martins et al., 2013). 

8. A study of 117 student project teams showed the psychological safety moderated the relationship between conflict and performance such that conflict lead to good performance when teams had high psychological safety and low performance otherwise (Bradley, 2012).

9. A study from 170 research scientists working in six Irish research centres. The authors showed the trust in top management lead to psychological safety, which in turn promoted work engagement (Chughtai et al., 2013)

10. A study in the mid western insurance company found that psychological safety predicted work engagement. In turn, psychological safety was fostered by supportive relationships with co-workers (May et al., 2004).

11. The study of US manufacturing and service companies. Found an interesting relationship between confidence and psychological safety. A psychologically safe workplace helped people overcome a lack of confidence. The influence of psychological safety and confidence on knowledge sharing (Siemsen et al., 2009).

12. A study in a Midwestern mid-size manufacturing company highlighted a positive climate for diversity and psychological safety together lead to more discretionary effort.These relationships are stronger for minorities than for white employees suggesting that psychological safety may be playing an especially crucial role for minorities in creating engagement and a feeling of being valued at work (Singh et al., 2013).

13. A study of Turkish immigrants employed in Germany found that psychological safety was associated with work engagement, mental health, and turnover intentions. They found that the positive effects of psychological safety was higher for the immigrants than for German employees in the same company (Ulusoy et al., 2016).

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