Psychological Safety



Review/write a theme of literature review – “Psychological Safety”
Correction/revision/re-write as necessary (see attachment). 15 sources minimum…more as necessary (no older than 3 years).





















Review of the Literature


Over the last decade, Psychological safety has become a salient topic in the contemporary business environment. Social scientists, psychologists have conducted numerous studies to ascertain an organization’s safety and vulnerability levels. This topic’s autonomy and extensiveness have attracted all organizations’ attention in all aspects of life to weigh the most organization’s safety and culture and their willingness to embrace teamwork and safe psychological spaces for all people.  Recent studies have shifted focus from the traditional work environment to well-integrated culture that cultivates inclusivity and creates a psychologically fulfilling environment for all the aides in an organization. In furtherance, social scientists have coined psychological safety as humanity and a science that should be ingrained in all aspects of life. Drawing insights from previous psychological safety empirical case studies, this study explores psychological safety as the primary theory for this paper. Organizations across different fields strive to cultivate a socially inclusive and safe environment for all the members. Embracing a psychologically safe culture boosts work performance and improves teamwork, leading to improved work output per production.

Organizations worldwide are modeled based on the organizational culture that solely relies on an employee’s ability to be vulnerable in the workplace without fear or intimidation from the manager or teammates.  Psychological safety has been the single most distinguishing factor in the growth, risk profile assessment, and workplace cooperation. Psychological safety serves as the foundation for a well-integrated morally functioning, stable environment fit for constructive criticism, risk-taking without prejudice, shaming, or stereotypical terms labeled against them. With the advent of globalization and knowledge-based economies characterized by complex and profound ideologies, it is pertinent for an organization to embrace psychological safety. The unprecedented rate of digital transformation will cause enormous disruptions to the business models, organizational culture. Therefore it is of paramount importance to encourage open and trustful communication channels to bridge all the emerging gaps in the organizational structure.


Definition of Psychological Safety.

Psychological safety is the ability to express feelings or emotions without fear of negative consequences from team members or employees. A psychologically safe environment is characterized by a series of learning, risk-taking, and interpersonal risks (Kostovich et al., 2020). Psychological safety establishes practices and shared beliefs within the organizations that encourage open and trustful relationships that facilitate candid discussions without the fear of rejection or reprisal (Boylan & Turner, 2017). When individuals feel about interacting and engaging in a psychologically safe environment, equipping and implement the most practical strategies to enhance their work out per production.

Factors that Influence Psychological Safety.


Psychological safety depends on the nature, level of interaction between the members or teams in an organization or workplace (Shen et al., 2015). In this regard, an organization’s psychological safety status can be influenced by various aspects and elements. The organizational culture plays a central role in the overall development of a safe environment.  These metrics range from an organization’s ability to embrace vulnerability, change perception, and create integrity-based models that allow employees to show trust through their activities and undertakings. Through this, an organization positively influences the psychological safety status of teams in an organization. The overall psychological safety is measured by the level of the risk profile of an organization, risk management, change management, consequences of negative criticism, contradicting opinions, owning up to one’s mistakes, and facing up the results. Therefore a multiperspective framework of contributors to psychological safety by reviewing empirical and theoretical studies is employed (Boylan & Turner, (2017).

Frazier et al. (2017) opine that the status of psychological safety is anchored on three primary variables: availability of safety management techniques, a friendly workplace created by the current team members, presence of transformational leaders willing to change organizational culture.  From this perspective, it is paramount to evaluate the essential safety management practices and policies implemented in an organization.  Frazier et al. (2017) developed the safety management theory, which asserts that all managers should create high-level policies and practices that govern trustworthy, candid, and open conversations designed to foster psychological safety. He further opines that the safety management policies should be anchored on candid, transparent talks that reflect trust, emotional attachment, perceptions, positive criticism, and optimism. These antecedents, outcomes, and moderators positively influence an organization’s psychological safety status (Newman, Donohue, & Eva, 2017). Although psychological safety is a continuum series with many phases, the analysis and evaluation of employees’ perception of the immediate safety climate eventually dictate their behavior. According to Edmondson (2018), there is a direct and significant relationship between the employees’ environment perceptions and the team’s actions.

It is an undeniable fact that teamwork plays a crucial role in an organization. Teamwork necessitates the need for a comprehensive evaluation and understanding of the underlying ways to solve issues, face risks, and engage in behaviors that ultimately promote psychological safety. Putting up reflective and analytical teamwork excursions boosts the overall psychological safety in the workplace. The psychological safety status is a crucial determinant of how individuals/employees in a team feel about psychological safety (Edmondson, 1999). The majority of these team members share a common perspective and that is usually translated as the entire organization’s psychological safety (Shen et al., 2015). The team’s collective sense is drawn from the team’s ability to openly discuss issues, raise problems, bring up unparalleled opinions from their supervisor, and air out their errors. For instance, a team member is harshly criticized, publicly reprimanded, and demeaned to bring up a failure. In the future, the team members are likely to shy away from presenting any mistakes for fear of reproach.  This behavior severely affects the attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs of a psychologically safe climate and even become accustomed to certain social norms that they pass on to future generations joining the workforce. Over time this leads to the formation of suppressed, disengaged, and risk-averse groups that lack the initiative and willingness to solve arising problems (Maximo, Stander, & Coxen, 2019). On the other hand, if the failure is communicated in a calm, clear, and transparent manner that emphasizes learning from the error, the team members will pick up a strong sense of togetherness that will eventually reflect a positive and inclusive psychological climate. Through this, team members can take interpersonal risks that cultivate open, trustworthy, respectful, and interdependent relationships that form a firm foundation for future employees.

Another key driving factor is the willingness to implement safety management policies to cultivate a psychologically safe workplace climate.  Shen et al. (2015) present that the level of readiness and commitment to establish a psychologically safe space is the fundamental element of a safety climate at higher levels. At an individual level, teams, proactiveness, and willingness to create a work team culture is the foundation upon which psychological safety flourishes or diminishes. At higher levels, transformational leaders’ concerted efforts will lead to drastic changes in the organization’s culture to create an environment. People can express themselves, offer ideas and opinions, bring up mistakes, and take personal and professional risks with fear, prejudice, or shame.

With research on Psychological safety continuously flourishing, Newton notes minimal literature on the key factors influencing psychological safety.  (Newman et al., 2017). A study conducted by Han and Roh (2020) shows that the factors affecting psychological health are anchored on three main vital variables: safety management practices, inclusive teamwork culture, and transformational leaders who steer change of organizational culture to increase work output per production. While the research relied on a cross-sectional study on patient safety competencies, it formed a firm foundation that draws insights and knowledge on the factors influencing psychological safety at all organization levels (Edmondson, 2018). In the preliminary stages of the research, provisional statistics showed a direct and significant relationship in the transient phases of psychological safety. Through a cohesive and correlational methodology, the study outlined the major driving forces that catapulted psychological safety to different levels, leading to a safe psychological climate.

Andersson et al. (2020) posit that organizations abiding by the antecedents breed a safe ground for growth and overall psychological safety. The theory is built on the notion that a well-integrated teamwork culture elevates the employees’ perceptions and attitudes and is crucial metrics in the overall psychological safety climate analysis. According to Silla and Gamero (2018), teams’ perception and time pressure play a crucial role in a psychological safety climate. Following this, the psychologically safe climate would significantly reduce the time pressure demands, which simultaneously bridges the gap between safe psychological environment and well-being drivers, thus transforming the entire psychological sphere (Silla & Gamero, 2018).

Shen et al. (2015) opine that safety climate perceptions are deeply rooted in social psychology. Regarding this teamwork, culture is derived from interpersonal risks a group of people is liable to in the workplace. A safe, psychologically safe climate allows immersive, contrarian opinions and constructive criticism to enable meaningful interactions between the team and the psychological environment. Therefore the safety behavior highly illustrates the psychological safety status of the organization as a whole. A positive and strong climate reflects an integrated teamwork culture where people feel safe expressing their ideas and opinions without fear of reproach (Zadow et al., 2017). In this regard safety, climate fertilizes safety behavior, which eventually increases corporate output. Shen (2017) states that prospective safety management comprises four significant segments: positive criticism, trustworthiness, transparency, and motivation. This transformational method leads to the increase and decrease of the psychological status to accommodate all the teams and groups compatible with the techniques (Frazier & Tupper, 2018). In applied psychology, it is pertinent to comprehensively lay a firm foundation that ensures all the safety management techniques and policies align with the safety climate. However, the behavior, attitude, job satisfaction, commitment, and perceptions are gelled together as the critical moderators of drivers’ well-being (Dollard et al., 2017).

Silla and Gamero (2018) noted that a psychologically safe environment, individual perceptions of the safety climate, and time pressure were relevant antecedents of drivers’ well-being, which acted as a reference for professional drivers because they were remote/lone workers. Numerous theoretical frameworks show a distinct and significant relationship between the time pressure demands and the psychological safety climate, which bridges the existing gap and contributes to psychological safety (Silla & Gamero, 2018).

A foundational meta-analysis of the numerous empirical studies around psychological safety shows that friendly team members positively influence a safety climate’s nature and status. A pleasant workplace has both a direct and indirect influence on psychological safety. Through the comprehensive analysis of a plethora of studies, it is evident that there is a positive and significant relationship. Still, the effects are visible due to job satisfaction, work attitudes, and organizational commitment. A job environments perceived nature’s calm or unfriendly nature translates to perceived risk, work pressures, and perceived barriers that have minimal and less impactful change. Many of the employees fear harsh and negative criticism (Page, Boysen, & Arya, 2019).


Improving Psychological Safety.

Han and Roh (2020) assert that safety management policies, teams’ perception, and overall work attitude are the primary drivers of a well-integrated, psychologically safe environment. Initially, this intervention will involve training programs that will target nurses working in the emergency department as a preliminary step to improve patient safety competence. The findings of Kostovich et al. (2020) on the nursing attitudes of psychological safety outlined within the simulation learning environment for pre-licensure for nursing students supported much of the existing literature on psychological safety in simulation learning environments. Kostovich et al. (2020) highlighted that all nursing faculty members work collaboratively to avoid bullying, protect them in case of harsh criticism, encourage risk-taking, enhance learning, and not be rushed in efforts to create a psychologically safe environment. Using the psychological safety lens, Chicca and Shellenbarger (2020) provided mechanisms and frameworks that drive inclusive clinical learning environments intentionally. Chicca and Shellenbarger (2020) suggested strategies and techniques based on students’ needs from underrepresented minority groups. In furtherance, this strategy’s twin objective was to initiate an inclusive teamwork culture, which leads to psychological safety.

Newman et al. (2017) reviewed the extant literature on psychological safety, highlighted gaps in the existing literature and issues with measurement of psychological safety, and concluded with directions for future research on psychological safety. Following this, there has been an influx of research on the various ways that organizations can boost psychological safety. More recently, the study by Kostovich et al. (2020) posits that psychological safety is anchored on five themes: (a) faculty presence; (b) learning without fear; (c) working together; (d) setting expectations; and (e) positively conversation.  The continuous idealization of these factors in chronological order will lead to shifting perception risk break all perception barriers to foster interpersonal discussions without fear of negative consequences.  In furtherance, Han and Roh (2020) suggested situation monitoring and psychological safety could predict patient safety competency.

Using simulation-based learning environments to illustrate the perceptions and attitudes under unfamiliar scenarios educates people in practical ways to improve psychological safety in all aspects of life (Roh et al., 2018). Roh et al. (2018) conducted a study with an experimental group and a control group that involved pre-briefing activities consisting of skills practice, scenario review and concept mapping, simulation environment and equipment, and fiction contract. The pre-brief -process pertinent in analyzing and examining key structural and psychical components of the scenarios, which helps in practical modeling strategies, facilitating positive criticism, and facilitating risk-taking opportunities.  Roussin et al. (2018) argue that occupational self-efficacy and psychological safety perceptions greatly alter active and real participation in simulation-based learning. The phase allows inclusive learning and processing information to develop strategies that foster risk-taking, constructive feedback, and positive criticism through open, trustworthy, and transparent channels, leading to psychological safety.  According to Kostovich et al. (2020), it is pertinent for the nursing faculty to conduct simulation learning tests to prepare the nursing students for the job environment early on in their careers.  From this perspective, students will understand and view psychological safety perceptions about the simulation learning environment.

Roh et al. (2018) revealed that the control group participants exhibited great teamwork culture that reflected higher psychological safety. After the simulation exercise, Roussin et al. (2018) noted that participants with greater psychological safety were quick to offer solutions and spoke with more clarity. Using content analysis and Simulation, Kostovich et al. (2020) emerged five themes: (a) setting the stage; (b) it’s ok, it’s Simulation; (c) everyone is Here to Learn; (d) planned Strategies; and (e) facilitator as an observer.

Roh et al. (2018) suggested that pre-briefing strategies that incorporated the fiction contract and concept mapping can improve the overall psychological safety climate. On the other hand, Roussin et al. (2018) suggested that internal and external factors played a critical role throughout the quality assessment procedures during simulation-based learning. Additionally, Roussin et al. (2018) indicated that it is of paramount importance to create an effective communication plan to improve teams ‘/groups’ learning experiences with low self-efficacy levels and improve overall psychological safety. Kostovich et al. (2020) suggested that faculty perceived that the foundation blocks a well-integrated psychologically safe learning environment during all three simulation experience phases. Kostovich et al. (2020employed multiple strategies throughout the simulation learning environment to facilitate risk-taking among the students as part of the learning process. Faculty watched out for physical and emotional triggers signifying a potentially psychologically unsafe learning environment so that they could intervene to protect them if necessary. Kostovich et al. (2020) identified five themes as the major determinants of a psychologically safe environment.

Discussion. Implementing structured pre-briefing processes, including concept mapping and fiction contracts, resulted in improved team psychological safety (Roh et al., 2018). While exploring the internal and external factors of speaking up and learning, Roussin et al. (2018) noted that self-efficacy positively influenced psychological safety. Further, Roussin et al. (2018) proposed that educators should engage the low self-efficacy learners to improve psychological safety. By contrast, Kostovich et al. (2020) suggested that creating a psychologically safe Simulation environment was the best practice in educating both students and employees on improving psychological safety.

Silla and Gamero (2018) argued that a psychologically safe environment causes general health and burnout, while time pressure would increase poor public health and burnout. Additionally, Silla and Gamero (2018) argued that a psychologically safe environment is partially mediated by time pressure.














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