Workers feel at home in office with hybrid
Workers feel at home in office with hybrid


Workers feel at home in office with hybrid

At a time when organisations are pitching for a full return to office, most employees find hybrid mode better for their psychological safety and well-being because of work-life balance.

Psychological safety, a term that is gaining traction in the post-pandemic workplace, is a belief held by team members that it’s okay to take risks, express ideas and concerns, speak up with questions, and admit mistakes — all without the fear of negative consequences.

According to a study, in-office workers experience psychological safety the least when compared to hybrid and remote employees (see graphic). The study by Gi Group Holdings, an HR solutions and staffing firm, shared exclusively with TOI, says male employees feel psychologically safer than women.

“In a hybrid mode, employees can avail greater flexibility and work-life balance, so naturally they prefer these over a full work-from-office model. The aspect of being mandated to do something is likely to weigh on employees and make them feel psychologically less safe,” said Sonal Arora, country manager India, Gi Group Holding.

“Organisations that are truly inclusive are those that create an environment where individuals feel comfortable bringing their authentic selves to work. This requires providing a safe space not just physically, but also psychologically,” Vieshaka Dutta, director (diversity, equity and inclusion), India and Asia-Pacific, Publicis Sapient, said.

According to employers, workplace biases, misconduct, and frequent or abrupt absenteeism are the biggest red-flags that indicate a psychologically unsafe workplace. “People from traditionally disadvantaged and marginalised groups have a higher need for psychological safety. It is important to cultivate a culture with a diverse workforce because it allows us to gain holistic perspectives that lets us create an impact through our work not just for our clients, but the society at large,” Dutta said.

Arora said that women feel less psychologically safe than men because of workplace biases. “Another contributory factor is the significantly smaller percentage ofwomen in leadership ranks — it’s widely accepted that psychological safety improves with increase in women at the leadership roles in an organisation. It is the traditional hierarchical structure of most organisations where women in general tend to feel a little excluded and therefore less psychologically safe,” she said.

Arora added that while a positive and courteous tone of verbal communication and positive body language goes a long way in promoting psychological safety at work, it doesn’t mean that employees cannot be given negative feedback or held accountable for performance or their deliverables.

“It’s about how communication is done. In organisations where employees are treated professionally and respectfully, they feel more psychologically safe. On the other hand, if screaming or shouting at employees is an acceptable behaviour, then that not only leads to unhealthy stress but also is counterproductive from a business standpoint as employees then tend to become very transactional in their engagement with the organisation as well as their deliverables,” Arora said. K Raheja Corp hired its first transgender woman colleague about a year ago. K Raheja Corp CHRO Urvi Aradhya said: “We invested close to 2 years prior to that, simply sensitising our people to be good allies. This was important so that the LGBTQ+ colleague was meted with the best work experience, while prioritising her psychological well-being. ”

Many employers (47% of responses in the study) are willing to prioritise psychological safety in the next year. The study, which has been conducted on over 500 employers and over a 1,000 employee respondents across sectors and age groups, says both employees (74%) and employers (68%) believe that open communication, attitude of colleagues (48% employees and 66% employers’ opinion) promotes psychological safety along with policies addressing biases.

Source: The Times of India