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PsychoLOGICAL and PsychoSOCIAL safety?

If you work in the people space them you would have heard the term Psychological Safety - and probably more so lately! Then there's the term Psychosocial Safety and sometimes these two are used interchangeably and quite confusingly.

The two are both important and related when it comes to workplace health, safety and wellbeing and change, yet Psychological Safety and Psychosocial Safety are two distinct and different concepts.

So what's the difference?

Psychological Safety is a concept coined in 1999 by Dr Amy Edmondson and refers to the right to feel safe at work, in speaking out when you have ideas, questions, concerns and mistakes.

It's an important concept that's been shown to contribute to the success of high-performing teams and it's incredibly important when it comes to leading teams through change.

Psychosocial Safety refers to a safe work environment with clear, easy to use and supportive organisational systems. Importantly, Psychosocial Safety includes safe social systems (people and relationships) at work.

Maintaining Psychosocial Safety also involves managing a variety of psychosocial (emotional and social) hazards and risks, which can have a negative impact on employee mental health and wellbeing. Think of it as the mental health equivalent of the protections and care we provide for physical health in the workplace.

How are they connected?

Well low Psychological Safety could contribute to Psychosocial hazards like stress, bullying, harassment and low control. And high psychological safety contributes to the safe social systems we are seeking to establish to achieve Psychosocial Safety.

On the flip side, when we work to manage Psychosocial Hazards and Risks we can increase people feelings of psychological safety at work.

What do I need to know before jumping in?

Psychological Safety is sometimes presented as the silver bullet to workplace mental health and wellness - and that's really not the case. It won't cover what is essential in Psychosocial Safety - the elements of risk identification, elimination and control.

Psychological Safety is but one element is the broader landscape of evidence-informed job design, maximising person-job fit, supportive leadership behaviour and delivering safe and supportive change.

Check out our quick explainer below to see how the two concepts are connected and talk to us today about how your leaders and team can take a Psychosocial approach to Change in your business.

If this sounds like something you're keen to explore but you don't have the knowledge, or toolset to start taking action, we can help and support you with our specially designed workshops and services.


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