The Psychologically Safe Co-Worker: Teamwork, Not Silos
May 31, 2022
Coral has appreciated the opportunity to consult various workplaces looking for a new way of looking at mistakes. She has discovered a continuous improvement mindset has built up her resilience and helped her to be better able to overcome problems and use them to improve her approaches to workplace improvement, communication, and project management.
Coral Doherty, RVT
Health and Safety Advisor
Have you ever worked with someone who just knows what you need? Each and every day at work is like pure magic. Then you start to notice they don’t seem like themselves. They’re falling short of their duties, showing up late, and calling in sick more often than usual? The magic feels like its disappearing…
They don’t seem like themselves. They don’t seem to be present to work with you. Reactive to your needs, listening to what you’re saying, they seem distant. Something is wrong.
They might be trying their best to “fake it” until the end of the workday. Or they could be honest with you. You want your co-worker to feel safe and tell you why they are just not feeling like themselves. As much as they love their job, are they beginning to feel overwhelmed and maybe even burned out?
You are thankful when you think about the workplace code of ethics; the team’s commitment to being a psychologically safe place to work. Where honesty, openness, and sharing is not risky. Your manager “gets it” and has received the training they need to ask the right questions, support open dialogue, facilitate community support, and comprehend psychological hazards. This manager can steer you and your co-workers in the right direction for support when you need it. You like how your team has a daily mental monitoring system and regular “checks-in” with the management. You are even asked to complete occupational stress assessments! This workplace has a plan to control or eliminate psychosocial hazards where they can. Burnout is real and they have adopted a zero target to eliminate it!
Your manager understands that veterinary workplaces are unique places to work. Mental health hazards are real. Compassion fatigue is exhausting and burnout makes you wonder “What is the point?” Not to mention anxiety! The butterflies, holding your breath, walking on eggshells – those are the sure fire signals that something isn’t right. Next thing, you can’t sleep because your adrenaline is through the roof! Phew… Thank goodness your manager has taken responsibility for the work environment. This psychologically safe workplace made you love your job again.
Yes, you want to remind your co-worker it’s OK, not to feel OK. You encourage them to reach out to your manager to find the support they need. Psychological safety at work is all about promoting and protecting mental health, not feeling alone, self-doubting or isolating oneself, like working in a silo.
Psychological safety means a shared workplace culture that values the power of trust. Trust means that everyone provides value and believes more can be accomplished with a team than alone. Communication has never been better since you started to practice rewarded vulnerability. Now you can express yourself and understand your teammates like never before. You’re not afraid of being punished or humiliated for speaking up or asking questions.
It’s a shared culture that embraces diversity, equity and inclusivity.
This shared workplace culture is supported by The 13 Psychosocial Factors as identified in the Canadian Standard for Psychological Health and Safety at Work:
- Organizational Culture
- Psychological and Social Support
- Clear Leadership & Expectations
- Civility & Respect
- Psychological Demands
- Growth & Development
- Recognition & Reward
- Involvement & Influence
- Workload Management
- Psychological Protection
- Protection of Physical Safety
A psychosocial factor is a term used to relate how a person feels, both physically and emotionally, when they interact with their environment.
When a work environment values the 13 Psychosocial Factors, people feel valued, trust each other, and feel like they belong! Organizations who value psychological health and safety are not only better places to work, they also achieve excellence in everything they do!
Veterinary medicine is a service oriented career. There are inherent risks in providing service to humans and healthcare to pets; compassion fatigue, PTSD, burnout, moral distress, and caregiver burden transfer. As if my life outside of work doesn’t have its own stressors!
It seems like a no-brainer, when you think about it, psychological health and safety and workplace culture is a winning combination for my mental health!
I never thought going to work could be so good for me!
Contact our team today to find out how we can support you.