Psychological safety has become a prevalent topic of conversation within industry in recent years. In demanding fields such as construction, psychological safety procedures can go a long way towards maintaining morale among workers and can have a profound impact on their physical health as well.
Welty Building Company realizes that not all individuals have a clear idea of what constitutes psychological safety and the relevance that these practices can have for their industry. Here, Welty Building Company reviews the subject as well as why a commitment to psychological safety is crucial in the construction field.
What is Psychological Safety?
Psychological safety refers to the idea that employees will not be punished or humiliated when speaking up with questions, ideas, concerns, or mistakes that are examined in the workplace. Psychological safety defends the work force’s status, career, and self-image by encouraging a positive, communicative, and empathic environment that promotes transparency.
In psychologically safe circles, team members are treated as equals and can be assured that their thoughts and input are accepted and appreciated by others. Teams that can uphold psychologically safe practices are able to adapt to obstacles and prepare innovative solutions to issues on the job. One of the primary reasons for this is that employees are more willing to put their ideas out there, and potential mistakes can be addressed swiftly and efficiently.
The Relevance of Psychological Safety in the Construction Industry
While all industries and workspaces have a place for psychological safety, physically demanding sectors that have the potential for injury are often where the ideology carries the most weight.
Welty Building Company reviews the realities of mental health, particularly in male-skewed industries, and finds that men are at a heightened risk of issues such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. Suicide is the number one cause of death in men under the age of 45 for a variety of reasons. There is a perceived stigma around speaking up and seeking help, and promoting empathic, psychologically safe environments can play a vital role in helping people feel supported.
Demanding fields like construction can also put pressure on workforces as they contend with project deadlines and potential work overload, which can serve as a leading cause of burnout. The freedom to speak with others about their own feelings and coping strategies for demanding work is another reason why psychological safe ideas are seeing such a huge boom in construction circles.
Welty Building Company notes that it is important to also recognize the intersect between psychological safety and physical safety. It is a common saying in the trades that “OSHA regulations are written in blood” when addressing the importance of following procedures to ensure workplace safety.
If standards are not being upheld or shortcuts are being made on the job that could endanger team members or building occupants or honest mistakes are made on a jobsite, knowing that the work environment empowers individuals to speak up can prevent disasters that could cause serious harm. In many ways, psychological safety is workplace safety.
How Can Employers Uphold Psychological Safety On-Site?
When exploring how employers can uphold psychological safety on construction sites, it is important to note that there are many resources out there that explain the makings of a positive work environment. Welty Building Company reviews many facets of positive, successful workspaces to implement them in their processes. Specifically, Welty maintains that encouraging employees to be transparent about their thoughts and feelings is a great start towards forging psychologically safe practices.
Largely it is the responsibility of employers to ensure that the environment they are building is a positive one. Recognizing the difference between playful ripping that is often seen as evidence of comradery in the trades and genuine attempts to dissuade others from sharing their thoughts and feelings is crucial.
Welty Building Company also acknowledges that attempts to promote psychological safe practices are nothing without the proper infrastructure in place to address questions, ideas, or concerns that may arise on the job. Certain issues need to be addressed and dealt with quickly, especially if they pertain to the safety and wellbeing of the team or future occupants of builds.
Experts speak to how looking out for the signs of a potentially psychologically unsafe environment can be key to improving outcomes for the sake of the workforce. A few examples of signs pointing to low psychological safety include infrequent feedback, avoidance of difficult conversations, tendency for employees to not own up to mistakes, blame shifting, lack of support among teams, and teams that do not feel comfortable asking one another for help. Administrators have the responsibility to notice these signs and take steps to improve comradery, empathy, and support within their job sites.
The Future of Psychological Safety
It has long since been proven that psychological safety has its place in construction and similar industries, but there are many ongoing conversations pertaining to the future of the ideology within the space.
Welty Building Company speaks to how addressing the stigma around mental health issues and developing infrastructure that supports speaking out when unsafe practices are noticed are things that we can expect companies large and small to invest in in the near future.
What some experts are learning is that some veterans of the construction industry believe in psychological safety but may not have the terminology or be aware of the research that has been done on the matter. For this reason, it is likely that the future of psychological safety will include trainings and workshops that break down the literature in a way that speaks to non-experts.