Drive Productivity Through Employee Psychology

by | Apr 2, 2024

The Great Attrition, (a current phenomenon seeing significant numbers of employees leaving their jobs), has left businesses worldwide grappling with a fundamental challenge: how to maintain productivity and retain talent in an environment characterised by rapid advancement and change. 

As organisations navigate this era of uncertainty, one crucial aspect emerges as a linchpin for success: understanding and leveraging employee psychology.

What is employee psychology?

It is a concept that encompasses the intricate interplay between an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours within the workplace context. It delves into the motivations, needs, and perceptions that drive employee engagement, satisfaction, and ultimately, productivity. In essence, it’s the study of what makes employees tick and how organisations can harness this understanding to create a thriving work environment.

At its heart, lies the concept of psychological safety—a cornerstone of high-performing teams and organisations. Psychological safety refers to the shared belief that one can take interpersonal risks without fear of negative consequences to self-image, status, or career. 

In a psychologically safe environment, employees feel empowered to speak up, express their ideas, and take calculated risks without the fear of ridicule or retribution.

We offer training for employees which include sessions dedicated to teaching leaders how to create a psychologically safe work environment for their teams. This training hones in on the key areas of building psychological safety at work, such as but not limited to, the importance of transparent and open communication, setting clear boundaries and expectations and how to ensure respectful conduct between team members. 

Why is psychological safety important in the workplace

The answer lies in its profound impact on organisational culture, employee wellbeing, and ultimately, productivity. 

Research has consistently shown that teams characterised by high levels of psychological safety are more innovative, resilient, and productive. When employees feel safe to voice their opinions, share concerns, and challenge the status quo, it fosters a culture of trust, collaboration, and continuous improvement.

Psychological safety is closely intertwined with mental wellbeing in the workplace—an increasingly pressing issue in today’s fast-paced and demanding work environments. The prevalence of burnout, stress, and mental ill health cases underscores the need for organisations to prioritise employee wellbeing as a cornerstone of their productivity strategy. By nurturing a culture of support, empathy, and work-life integration, employers can mitigate the negative impact of work-related stressors and create an environment where employees can thrive both personally and professionally.

To understand how psychology relates to the workplace, one must examine the fundamental psychological needs that drive human behaviour in organisational settings. 

Examples of psychological needs include: autonomy, competence, relatedness, and recognition. 

1. Autonomy:

Employees crave autonomy—the freedom to make decisions and control their work environment. 

2. Competence:

Competence refers to the need to feel capable and effective in one’s job role.

3. Relatedness:

Relatedness is the desire for meaningful connections and relationships with colleagues. 

4. Recognition:

Finally, recognition and praise for employees and their contributions play a pivotal role in fostering a sense of value and belonging within the organisation.

In the adverse, Imbalances in power, workplace conflict, and relationship problems with colleagues or superiors can significantly impede psychological safety and productivity. 

When employees perceive unfair treatment, favouritism, or lack of support from leadership, it erodes trust and undermines morale. Similarly, unresolved conflicts or strained relationships can create tension, disrupt teamwork, and hinder collaboration. Effective one-on-one meetings, open communication channels, and conflict resolution strategies are essential tools for addressing these challenges and restoring equilibrium within the organisation.

Now more than ever organisations need adaptable, innovative and performance driven teams that are equipped to strengthen their companies through economic and technological challenges. 

To thrive employers must adopt a holistic approach to improving workforce productivity—one that encompasses both tangible and intangible factors. While traditional metrics such as efficiency and output remain important, they must be complemented by a focus on employee engagement, wellbeing, and psychological safety.

To gain insight into your company’s approach to psychological safety, you can find out more about our Psychological Safety Assessment and Action Plan. Through our psychological safety assessment, you can measure the extent to which your employees feel psychologically safe at work, and based on the results, we will target the areas in need of improvement and make suggestions to guide you towards a future with improved psychological safety for your teams. 

Remember: psychological safety is the cornerstone to improved employee productivity! 

So, how can organisations enhance workforce productivity through employee psychology?

Prioritise mental wellbeing at the workplace:

Invest in programmes and initiatives that promote employee mental health and work-life integration. Provide resources such as counselling services, flexible work arrangements, and mindfulness training to support employees in managing stress and maintaining personal wellbeing.

Recognise and praise employees:

Acknowledge and celebrate employee achievements and contributions regularly. Genuine recognition fosters a sense of belonging and motivation, reinforcing positive behaviours and promoting a culture of appreciation. These could be big or small gestures, something as simple as “I loved your presentation today” or “I can tell you worked hard on that report” will go a long way to contribute to positive social interactions that people need to maintain a healthy state of mental and social wellbeing.

Address imbalances in power:

Ensure fairness, transparency, and accountability in decision-making processes and organisational policies. Mitigate power dynamics that contribute to inequality or favouritism, and empower employees to challenge injustice or misconduct when necessary.

Proactively manage workplace conflicts:

Equip managers and employees with conflict resolution skills and resources to address interpersonal disputes effectively. Encourage open communication, empathy, and compromise to resolve conflicts and strengthen relationships within the team.

As societal development continues to reshape the workforce landscape

…those who embrace the principles of employee psychology will emerge as leaders in cultivating a culture of productivity, resilience, and growth, because they will have the understanding that, by prioritising psychological safety, mental wellbeing, and employee engagement, they can unlock the full potential of their workforce and thrive in the face of adversity.

By taking a strategic, comprehensive and systematic approach to enhancing employee psychology in the workplace (i.e. appointing an internal party to oversee employee health and wellbeing or seeking an external consultant for guidance), your company will see the return on investment in workplace wellbeing initiatives via the long-term success of its company. 

Stay informed to unlock the benefits of improved workplace wellbeing.