Why Psychological Safety Should Be a Focus for Every Employer in 2022

Author: Wellbeing

Do you have a good grasp of how poor psychological safety at work can impact your employees? Would you know the best ways to foster a culture of psychological safety in the workplace? And what about the benefits? Have you got a clear insight into the bountiful benefits of improving psychological safety – both for your people, and your company?

If not, this article is for you.

Attitudes to workplace wellbeing have shifted irrevocably since the pandemic threw our mental health into sharp focus. Since that time, employers have faced mounting pressure to meet the evolving needs of their workforce, and prioritise people (and their wellness) above profits. A logical step for some; a gargantuan leap for many.

But whatever your understanding of, attitude towards, or level of commitment to mental health in the workplace, a focus on psychological safety is something that every business will need to embrace if they hope to remain competitive, attractive, and relevant in today’s market.

If you’re not sure how, there’s an ISO for that.

ISO 45003: A Guiding Hand to Psychological Health at Work

ISO 45003 is the first global standard of its kind: developed to give practical and actionable guidance on managing psychological health in the workplace. 

In its simplest terms, ISO 45003 is an extension of occupational health and safety management that recognises the necessity of managing psychological risks, as well as psychical. 

The guidance includes information on recognising risks within the workplace (whether site-based, home or hybrid), with examples of how to effectively manage psychological hazards and improve employee wellbeing. The standard recognises and promotes a move towards ‘whole health’ – because neither our physical nor mental health exist in a vacuum.

But why does psychological safety matter? And is it really worth your time? 

Because the world is changing. And yes, it absolutely is.

The Value of Supporting Employee Psychological Safety

Championing mental health at work has never been more important, more necessary, or more widely expected. 

The value of creating a positive culture at work, one that nurtures good mental health and promotes the prioritisation of employee wellness, should not be underestimated. Employers who invest their time, money and effort into building mentally healthy workplaces most typically benefit from:

  • Lower levels of attrition
  • Improved retention
  • Maximised engagement
  • Increased productivity
  • Enhanced performance
  • Greater company-wide resilience
  • Favourable brand image
  • Reduced sickness absence

A framework like ISO 45003 can help you to manage psychological health and safety, but there are steps you can start taking now to evaluate potential stressors, and promote wellbeing at work.

How to Manage Psychological Risks in the Workplace

When psychological risks aren’t managed effectively, they can lead to work-related stress, burnout, or even depression. At that stage, you’re looking at a choice between treatment, or losing your staff. What you want to do is manage things before they ever reach that point – preventing unhealthy levels of stress through a carefully considered approach to workplace wellbeing.

Psychosocial risks can be difficult to define, but some common examples include:

  • Being frequently overloaded with work
  • Having little control over workload, working methods, or working hours
  • A lack of appropriate supervision or guidance
  • Poor work/life balance
  • Few opportunities for social interaction
  • Bullying, harassment or discrimination
  • Negative or disrespectful colleagues
  • Insubstantial clarity around roles and responsibilities
  • Insufficient recognition for hard/good work
  • Not enough opportunities to exercise skillset
  • Only performing monotonous tasks

So what can you do to alleviate these risks?

  • Ensure workloads and deadlines are reasonable
  • Introduce a greater level of flexibility around tasks, methods and hours
  • Give supervisors suitable training in communication and people skills
  • Consider an email curfew, and discourage employees from working excessive hours
  • Nurture a sense of teamwork through regular opportunities to connect
  • Regularly monitor employee satisfaction, and act on your findings
  • Conduct 1-to-1s to clarify roles and responsibilities
  • Insubstantial clarity around roles and responsibilities
  • Design a fair recognition and reward system
  • Identify your workers’ top skills, and look at development opportunities
  • Divide out monotonous tasks, and intersperse with interesting projects

Of course, the very best way to evaluate and subsequently manage psychosocial risk factors is by truly getting to know your workforce: involve people in decisions; circulate regular employee satisfaction surveys; invite confidences; speak openly about your own stresses and strains; normalise putting your wellbeing before work, and work consistently to create a true culture of wellbeing.

Every employee deserves to work in an emotionally safe environment, where their basic human needs are met by an employer who genuinely cares. Get that right, and you stand a very strong chance of creating a robust, committed, fully engaged workforce – free from the sort of excessive stress that all too often robs the workplace (and the economy) of precious talent. 

To find out how BetterSpace can help you to improve workplace wellbeing in your organisation, get in touch, or arrange a free demo of our science-backed, employee-led wellbeing platform.


BetterSpace is the employee wellbeing platform putting control where it belongs: in the hands of the individual employee. Our groundbreaking solution has been developed with medical and domain expertise and is aligned to our Six Pillars of Wellbeing. BetterSpace empowers your workforce to understand and fulfill their mental health needs.

Want to know more? Contact us today.