3 Reasons Why Psychological Safety is the Key to Having the Best Work Environment

3 Reasons Why Psychological Safety is the Key to Having the Best Work Environment

Part of employee retention at a general contractor is removing the anxieties that can lead to untimely and expensive departures

December 13, 2022

5 min read


Caleb Taylor

Caleb Taylor

Founder at Buildr

It’s a new age for the workplace, one that’s replaced worker-bee mentalities with an appreciation of shared ideas. Employees aren’t just nameless cogs in the machine anymore—they’re sources of new ideas, trends, and the backbone of your firm. But as a general contractor, how can you empower your staff to safely share their fresh ideas without the expectation of backlash?

There’s no question that employee comfort is key to establishing a healthy work environment, and through three simple steps, you can do so yourself. Find out how psychological safety feeds into a seamless workplace, before putting our tips into practice.

Psychological Safety is the Key to Having the Best Work Environment

There are three key benefits to establishing psychological safety at your firm: it forms a learning culture, builds trust among your team, and signals two-way transparency between employee and employer. "The best," of course, is always going to be subjective. But when we're talking about employee retention and about establishing a collaborative, transparent, and stimulating working environment when most other general contractors in your market are not prioritizing those things, "the best" isn't so out of reach.

1. It Fosters a Learning Culture

When you share ideas, you establish comfort by instigating learning, that is, as long as you have a diverse team with unique angles to share. There’s nothing worse than a team of clones that blindly agrees on everything.

As a GC and leader, this doesn’t just include good ideas or successful endeavors. Admitting mistakes, failures, and learning from them is the foundation of both life and work. So, sharing these failures and the lessons learned isn’t only a great way to foster learning, but integral to keeping your team comfortable with the idea of failure. Nobody’s perfect, after all.

One way to share ideas, foster learning, and build psychological safety is by simply explaining a concept to a colleague, or even the whole team. Whether it’s a slideshow or speech, sharing your expertise will both teach your team something new and encourage them to share their own unique insights. Everyone's got something they can teach.

Failing fast and psychological safety's link to tech adoption

Fear of failure or even embarrassment can be an inhibitor to innovation. In Silicon Valley, failing fast is integral to success. Imagine how fast you could learn if failure wasn't ostracized and a prim and proper perfectionism under the guise of sticking to tradition wasn't the norm? New learnings arise from fast failures; new ideas should be shared freely, even if there's a chance of failing. Because that means odds are you'll gain a valuable lesson.

Successful tech adoption becomes possible with a GC that emphasizes psychological safety with their employees. If the GC didn't tolerate risks and acknowledged that failure would at least teach them something important for the next go 'round, the GC would never adopt a single piece of tech. They'd be forever behind and eventually pushed out of contention by all the innovative and psychologically safe GCs in their market.


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2. It Builds Much-Needed Trust

A truly comfortable workplace calls for two elements: interpersonal trust and mutual respect. Without one or the other, your team could be at risk of burnout or simple workplace dissatisfaction. When trust is apparent, collaboration thrives, and there are few industries more collaborative than construction.

You've likely heard of the term "quiet quitter," and the concept of someone emotionally disengaging from their work, relying on an autopilot level of competency to complete their tasks at the absolute bar of acceptability and nothing past it.

Rather than breeding a staff of quiet quitters, it’s important to build genuine trust with all of them. We’re all human, and putting on that professional filter can daunt the psychological comfort your workers crave. Here are a few ways you can build trust with your staff and keep them happy in their roles:

Practice Open Communication

Open and honest communication is the key to understanding your staff’s motivations, goals, and workplace needs. You can foster this by establishing weekly one-on-ones to check in on your employees, rather than depending on emotionless emails. Good and consistent communication will fill that gap between you and your employees, which serves to establish much-needed trust.

And don't just talk about work, meet them on a human level and truly mean it when you ask, "How are you doin'?" No need to get too into the weeds (you're not their therapist), but finding a happy professionalism medium between informal and formal is key here.

The inverse, of course, is offering the same level of communication on your end; communication is a two-way street. Communicate the expectations of their position and the roadmap of the company and how they continue to fit into that, and do it consistently as goals ebb and flow.

Convey Appreciation

Everyone loves recognition, especially when it’s earned. Work is exhausting and draining for many, and a bit of recognition goes a long way. To keep your staff comfortable in their roles, consider making simple gestures that show them their value to the company. It can be out of your comfort zone to praise and that's okay. That's a sign that you're not doing it enough.

This could be a “Thank You” note, a small gift, or even a one-on-one discussion about how much they mean to the organization. If you're really feeling it—a raise! Look at you go. However big or small your sign of recognition is, patting your employees’ backs will show them how deeply you value their work and the work will be better because of it.

Offer Deserved Respect

At the end of the day, along with being paid and recognized fairly, it’s crucial to respect your employees and their opinions. No one likes feeling neglected. Add disrespect on top of that, and you have yourself an employee itching to exit.

For example, you may disagree with a subordinate—but there’s a right and wrong way to do so. Being—to colloquialize here—all up in their face, will likely put them off. Especially compared to a constructive discussion about why their work is off the mark. In short, respect their inputs and practice empathy in your delivery. If your employee feels that they're respected, you'll have that employee in your ranks for a long time.

CRM adoption promotes healthy, collaborative work environments

See what a client management tool built for general contractors can do for your business development team

3. It Signals Transparency

Transparency is a must-have for any employer-employee relationship, especially as a leader at a general contractor. And by building psychological comfort within your firm, that transparency can be quickly established for employees and employers alike. 

This subtly relates to accountability in the GC realm. Take, for example, a client relationship management tool (CRM) for general contractors. Rather than assuming that your staff is tending to their tasks or following up with them to check if that's the case, a CRM (*cough* like Buildr) lets your team collaborate on a fully transparent platform that tracks every step of each project. CRM removes the feeling of "babysitting," because you don't need to check in when you can see exactly what step people are at on certain projects or opportunities.

To stay comfortable in their roles, your employees require psychological safety—and with these three stepping stones, you can provide just that with true genuineness. Foster a learning culture among your staff, build that much-needed trust, and establish two-way transparency for a workplace environment that both encourages and produces. In the end, your team will thank you—even if it's just implicitly with their extended time spent working with you. 

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