Employers can do more to ensure colleagues feel connected at work.
That is what R U OK has said in its announcement of the results of its 2019 Australian Workplace Psychological Safety Survey.
Out of 1093 Australian employees it surveyed, it found that nearly a quarter of them don’t participate in activities that connect them with colleagues.
This causes concern for the suicide prevention charity, as Dr Thomas Joiner, a leading expert on suicide, describes a lack of connection (or lack of belonging) as one of the three forces at play in someone at risk of suicide.
R U OK says one of the biggest barriers to workers feeling like they belonged is a lack of time to engage in social activities due to workload.
Graeme Cowan, Board Member of R U OK, is calling on employers to address this issue. He points out that there are economic as well as social benefits when a workforce feels connected and psychologically safe.
“A ‘psychologically safe’ workplace is characterised by a climate of interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people feel comfortable being themselves and to ask for help,” Mr Cowan said.
“Organisational workload will always be a barrier, however those who create opportunities for employee connection such as morning teas or celebrations for birthdays foster a positive culture.
“While there are benefits to individuals and a duty of care from organisations, psychologically safe teams have also been shown to be the most innovative – and in a worrying development, only 28% of respondents said they felt safe to take a risk in 2019 compared to 34% in 2017.
“Today’s results demonstrate more needs to be done to educate organisations on these benefits, to ensure all Australians are seeing the rewards of psychologically safe workplaces,” he said.