Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Psychological Safety

At TTS, our values are inclusion, integrity, and impact.

This page covers a key organizational trait that TTS needs in order to live our values: psychological safety.

What psychological safety is

Researcher and professor Amy C. Edmondson created the foundational definition of psychological safety:

“...a team climate characterized by interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people are comfortable being themselves. For knowledge work to flourish, the workplace must be one where people feel able to share their knowledge! This means sharing concerns, questions, mistakes, and half-formed ideas.” - , external,Psychological Safety and Learning Behavior in Work Teams

What psychological safety looks like

When there is a high level of psychological safety in an organization, there is a shared belief across teams and the organization that people are free to speak up and take risks without fear of embarrassment, retribution or retaliation.


  • Staff feel safe to bring their ideas and perspectives to the table
  • Teams are respectful and create space for divergent thought
  • Failure is embraced as a path to learning, productivity and performance

Additionally, leaders demonstrate psychological safety through their actions and behaviors.


  • Lead by example & model curiosity
  • Foster a collaborative environment where people are invited to share ideas or new approaches with each other, regardless of position or role
  • Use feedback to inform actions and communicate changes they've made
  • Measure psychological safety
  • Explore failure from a learning mindset and not a blame mindset
  • Acknowledge their own fallibility

Why psychological safety matters

Psychological safety matters for team performance, productivity, and innovation.

, external,Research suggests that “... individuals on teams with higher psychological safety are less likely to leave [their organization], they’re more likely to harness the power of diverse ideas from their teammates, they bring in more revenue, and they’re rated as effective twice as often by executives”.

Psychological safety is required for great, yet imperfect teams. (Perfectionism, in fact, is antithetical to psychological safety!)

Psychological safety and DEIB

Psychological safety is not a diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) initiative; however, psychological safety enables DEIB efforts.

How psychological safety adds to the workplace experience

  • Diversity: Employees are hired for diversity of life experience, thinking and approach. Leaders tap into diverse experiences and knowledge to encourage innovation.

  • Equity: Employees receive fair treatment and have access to the same opportunities. Leaders challenge myths around meritocracy.

  • Inclusion: Employees feel valued and respected for their intersectional uniqueness. Leaders identify and challenge bias as an inclusive leadership competency.

  • Belonging: Employees grow and thrive by being their authentic selves. Leaders encourage employees to speak up and are intentional about who is included in decisions.

Benefits of psychological safety in the workplace

What we seek How this plays out in a psychological safe environment
Better levels of communication We openly share knowledge and our reasoning behind decisions.
More openness to learning We acknowledge and learn from failure.
Improved performance We encourage creativity and innovation, knowing that not every new idea will yield the results we hope for.
Positive employee attitudes We are committed to our work and each other, supporting each other through challenges.
Increased levels of initiative We identify and implement ways to improve performance and project outcomes.

Psychological safety & conflict

Psychological safety is not an artificially harmonious environment. In a psychologically safe workplace, one may openly and respectfully disagree with someone else without fear or threat of reprisal or adverse labeling. Each person is still held accountable for their actions and does not weaponize psychological safety as a shield. We do not always “get our way” in psychologically safe workplaces.

Conflict is recognized as inevitable, and healthy conflict is a path towards growth and improvement.


Return to the top of the page ^

An official website of the U.S. General Services Administration

Looking for U.S. government information and services?
, external,Visit