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THE AUSTRALIAN
WORKPLACE
PSYCHOLOGICAL
SAFETY SURVEY
BACKGROUND
Professor Amy Edmondson from Harvard
Business School defines psychological safety as
“A team climate characteri...
WORLD-FIRST STUDY INTO WORKPLACE
PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY
R U OK? commissioned* a world-first study into psychological safety ...
MISTAKE
at WORK
If you make a
IT'S OFTEN HELD AGAINST YOU
OTHER
56%
MISTAKES
LESS CONCERNED
WILL BE HELD AGAINST ME
MALE
4...
Professor Amy Edmondson
Harvard Business School
• Studying psychological safety is incredibly important
because it gets to...
FOR HELP
IT'S DIFFICULT TO ASK MY COLLEAGUES
OTHER
38%
DISAGREE OR
STRONGLY DISAGREE
62%
% of those who
agreed by age
grou...
Professor Amy Edmondson
Harvard Business School
• Team, cross department, and external
collaboration has increased dramati...
AGREE
34%
OTHER
66%
A RISK
IT'S SAFE TO TAKE
AT WORK
YES
OF THOSE WHO SAID
BY GENDER
MALE
53%
FEMALE
47%
YES
OF THOSE WHO ...
Professor Amy Edmondson
Harvard Business School
• Although much of my earlier work was undertaken in
hospitals, I am hesit...
COLLEAGUES
WORKING WITH MY
MY UNIQUE SKILLS AND
TALENTS ARE UTILISED
AGREE or
STRONGLY AGREE
64%
OTHER
36%
Only 50% for th...
Professor Amy Edmondson
Harvard Business School
• High performing teams and organisations
should be striving for 80% "Stro...
REJECT OTHERS FOR
MY WORK COLLEAGUES OFTEN
BEING DIFFERENT
OTHER
42%
DISAGREE or
STRONGLY DISAGREE
58%
MY WORK COLLEAGUES
...
Professor Amy Edmondson
Harvard Business School
• In a supportive and psychologically safe team
environment, people feel c...
WOULD DELIBERATELY 
NONE OF MY COLLEAGUES
UNDERMINE MY EFFORTS
METRO RESPONSE REGIONAL RESPONSE
AGREE or
STRONGLY AGREE
56...
R U OK? is an Australian suicide prevention charity. Our mission is to
inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connec...
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World 1st - Australian Workplace Psychological Safety Survey Report

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Would you like your teams to learn faster, and be more agile and resilient? Innovation powerhouses like Google and IDEO have found that psychological safety is the #1 predictor of their best teams.
icare and R U OK? just launched a world-first study into psychological safety in the workplace, which showed that frontline lower income-earning staff feel less safe and permitted to take risks at work than higher income-earning employees.

The Australian Workplace Psychological Safety Survey canvassed 1,176 Australian employees and found that only 23 per cent of lower income-earning frontline employees felt their workplace was “psychologically safe” to take a risk, compared to 45 per cent of workers on significantly higher incomes.

A “psychologically safe” workplace is characterised by a climate of interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people feel comfortable being themselves to make mistakes or take risks in their work.

Professor Amy Edmonson from Harvard Business School collaborated with R U OK? and has commented on the results. She said “This is the first time a country has ever measured psychological safety in the workplace”.

MORE INFORMATION
Graeme Cowan, Board Director, R U OK?: graeme@graemecowan.com.au
Brendan Maher, CEO, R U OK?: brendan@ruok.org.au

Published in: Business
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World 1st - Australian Workplace Psychological Safety Survey Report

  1. 1. THE AUSTRALIAN WORKPLACE PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY SURVEY
  2. 2. BACKGROUND Professor Amy Edmondson from Harvard Business School defines psychological safety as “A team climate characterized by interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people are comfortable being themselves.” In her TED talk she explains why psychological safety is critical for agile, fast learning, and resilient teams. Google’s research of its own workforce revealed that psychological safety was the most important team norm for high-performing innovative workplaces. Professor Amy Edmondson Harvard Business School
  3. 3. WORLD-FIRST STUDY INTO WORKPLACE PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY R U OK? commissioned* a world-first study into psychological safety in the workplace. It is the first time a country’s whole workforce has been evaluated. The Australian Workplace Psychological Safety Survey canvassed 1,176 Australian employees and found that only 23 per cent of lower income-earning frontline employees felt their workplace was “psychologically safe” to take a risk, compared to 45 per cent of workers on significantly higher incomes. Detailed results and commentary by Professor Edmondson follow. MORE INFORMATION See the R U O K? Video – Why mental resilience should be on every CEO’s agenda Graeme Cowan, Board Director, R U OK? – graeme@graemecowan.com.au Brendan Maher, CEO, R U OK? – brendan@ruok.org.au * Research Conducted by Colmar Brunton, the survey was based on an independent online survey of 1,176 Australian full-time and part-time employees across all states and territories in March, 2017.
  4. 4. MISTAKE at WORK If you make a IT'S OFTEN HELD AGAINST YOU OTHER 56% MISTAKES LESS CONCERNED WILL BE HELD AGAINST ME MALE 44% FEMALE 56% BY AGE MOST CONCERNED 0 10 20 30 40 18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+ DISAGREE OR STRONGLY DISAGREE 44%
  5. 5. Professor Amy Edmondson Harvard Business School • Studying psychological safety is incredibly important because it gets to the heart of innovation. • In fast moving environments, breakthroughs happen through trying many things and making mistakes – before finding what works. • When I work with clients I strive for a minimum 70% “Strongly disagreeing” or “Disagreeing” with this statement. • It's very worrying and counterproductive for a “mistake” to held against you, and a cultural mindset like this will lead to people being reluctant to propose new ideas. • It was intriguing why women were less concerned about making mistakes, and that this warrants additional insights and research. • Whilst it isn’t unusual for younger workers to feel more insecure, she explained that they are often at the front line, and efforts should be made address their concern.
  6. 6. FOR HELP IT'S DIFFICULT TO ASK MY COLLEAGUES OTHER 38% DISAGREE OR STRONGLY DISAGREE 62% % of those who agreed by age group FOR HELP ask my colleagues IT'S DIFFICULT TO 0 5 10 1518-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+ 20 25
  7. 7. Professor Amy Edmondson Harvard Business School • Team, cross department, and external collaboration has increased dramatically because of the digital revolution. • It is critical that people feel safe and willing to ask their colleagues inside and outside the organisation for help. • High performing teams and organisations should be striving for at least 80% of employees “Strongly disagreeing” or “Disagreeing” with this statement.
  8. 8. AGREE 34% OTHER 66% A RISK IT'S SAFE TO TAKE AT WORK YES OF THOSE WHO SAID BY GENDER MALE 53% FEMALE 47% YES OF THOSE WHO SAID BY LOCATION REGIONAL 42% METRO 58% YES OF THOSE WHO SAID YES BY INCOME 0 10 20 30 40 50 $156K + $104-$156K$78K -$104K $52K -$78K U nder$52K YES OF THOSE WHO SAID YES EDUCATION 0 10 20 30 40 YEA R 10/TR A D E D IPLO M A /C ER T D EG R EE O R A B O VE
  9. 9. Professor Amy Edmondson Harvard Business School • Although much of my earlier work was undertaken in hospitals, I am hesitant to use this question where physical safety is critical such as mining, construction, and health care. • For most organisations operating in the information or digital economy, this question is critical to try new things, learn quickly and continually improve. For example, Facebook has as one of its founding values “move fast and break things”. • I recommend that my clients strive for 70% "Strongly Agreeing" or "Agreeing" with this statement. • Google has identified psychological safety as their most important team norm for high performance. They have found that by everyone sharing a risk they have taken in the last week at their team meeting is the fastest way to improve psychological safety. • The design company IDEO has 90% of its employees strongly agreeing or agreeing with this statement.
  10. 10. COLLEAGUES WORKING WITH MY MY UNIQUE SKILLS AND TALENTS ARE UTILISED AGREE or STRONGLY AGREE 64% OTHER 36% Only 50% for those on $52k or less per year agreed or strongly agreed with this statement
  11. 11. Professor Amy Edmondson Harvard Business School • High performing teams and organisations should be striving for 80% "Strongly agreeing" or "Agreeing" with this statement. • The benefits to individual and teams that are able to use their top strengths each day is compelling. For example, Gallup research shows that if people use their top 5 strengths everyday they are 600% more likely to be engaged at work and 300% more likely to report high life satisfaction. • The message for teams is equally strong. According to other Gallup research, if individuals within a team strongly agree with this statement: “At work I have the opportunity to do what I do best each day” the team has been shown to be 30% more likely to be highly productive, 44% more likely to earn high customer satisfaction scores, and 50% more likely to have high employee retention.
  12. 12. REJECT OTHERS FOR MY WORK COLLEAGUES OFTEN BEING DIFFERENT OTHER 42% DISAGREE or STRONGLY DISAGREE 58% MY WORK COLLEAGUES OFTEN REJECT OTHERS FOR BEING DIFFERENT % OF THOSE WHO AGREED BY AGE GROUP 0 5 10 15 18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+ 20 25
  13. 13. Professor Amy Edmondson Harvard Business School • In a supportive and psychologically safe team environment, people feel comfortable to be themselves. This in one of the main findings from Google’s Project Aristotle into their high performing team. • If employees feel cared for, no matter who they are, they will feel more engaged and productive. For example, Gallup research shows that the more people that “Strongly agree” with this statement “My supervisor or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person” – the higher the profit, productivity levels, customer service rating, and the longer employees stay with the company.
  14. 14. WOULD DELIBERATELY  NONE OF MY COLLEAGUES UNDERMINE MY EFFORTS METRO RESPONSE REGIONAL RESPONSE AGREE or STRONGLY AGREE 56% Other 44% OTHER 36% AGREE or STRONGLY AGREE 64%
  15. 15. R U OK? is an Australian suicide prevention charity. Our mission is to inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with the people around them and to support anyone struggling with life. We’re most well-known for our national day of action, R U OK? Day, on the second Thursday in September (14 September 2017). We also have campaigns to inspire connection throughout the year, including R U OK? at Work, R U OK? Afield and R U OK? School. For more information www.ruok.org.au

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