It has become increasingly important to provide safe spaces for employees at work. As a team leader or business owner, that's your responsibility - but there's relatively little guidance out there for doing so. If you want to care for your employee's emotional and physical safety, you'll want to follow the tips below.
What does it mean to create a safe space for employees? It's hard to tell if you don't know your workers, so take some time to learn more about them. Don't be intrusive, but get to know your team on a personal level so you can better provide for their needs. Safe spaces mean different things to different people, so don't just rely upon your preconceived notions of what your employees might want. Remember to learn not just about their personalities, but also how they handle conflict.
Have an Open Door Policy
Can your employees talk to you about the things that bother them? Does your team feel comfortable taking time out of their day to let you know what's going on? You can't provide a safe space if your team is afraid of you, so implement a true open door policy that will help to foster a sense of communication. In addition to keeping your door open, you'll also need to guarantee a certain degree of privacy - no one will talk to you if their issues become the latest bit of workplace gossip. Your team should feel comfortable in the knowledge that what they tell you will stay between the two of you.
Listen, Then Take Action
One of the best ways to create a safe space for your employees is to stop and listen before you take any action. When your employees come to you, they're not always looking for you to take an immediate stand. Take some time to gather up all the information, look into what you are realistically able to do, and then take the appropriate action. This creates not only a safe space for your workers, but one that can realistically provide for their needs. Immediate action might feel good, but properly researched action is better able to solve problems over the long term.
An article from Entrepreneur recommends that you identify leaders within your workplace as a method of creating a safe space for your employees. While this is a very good idea for those who are concerned with physical safety, it's also very important for those who are looking to create an emotionally and psychologically safe space for employees. Good leaders will be your eyes and ears in the workplace, identifying problems that you are too removed to spot. It might be a good idea to start your search by looking at those employees who have received service awards in the past.
Be Honest With Yourself
One of the most important things to remember is that you can't fix everything and that problems will continue to occur no matter how hard you try to fix them. You can't see everything coming, but you can do your level best. Instead of worrying about what you can't do and overextending yourself, dedicate yourself to making the changes within your power. You can create a safer workplace for your employees if you are willing to understand your own shortcomings and work with those in mind.
Creating a safe space is not always easy, but it is rewarding. If your employees feel comfortable, they can be more productive and will become more loyal. A safe space will help you to create the kind of workplace that your employees truly deserve.
Malcolm spends his time elevating businesses through independent consultant work, with core focuses around; bigger ideas, bottom-lines and better business. When Malcolm isn't writing, or meeting with a board, he's gearing for the eventual ultra marathon he's been planning for years.