BSG Report Reveals the Importance of “Psychological Safety” for Employees

According to a study by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a notable goal for employers in 2024 is helping employees to feel safe in expressing their thoughts and taking risks. The BCG survey, Psychological Safety Levels the Playing Field for Employees, was conducted across 16 countries and involved 28,000 employees. The results revealed that employees who felt safe expressing their thoughts, also called, “psychological safety,” are 2.1 times more motivated, 2.7 times happier, and 3.3 times more empowered at work. Empathetic leadership, exemplified by respecting team members’ perspectives, emotions, and life situations, is as a key driver of psychological safety. While 12% of employees with low psychological safety express intentions to quit within a year, this number drops to only 3% when psychological safety is high.

Psychological safety is especially critical for diverse groups. When effectively established, it results in retention increases of over four times for women and BIPOC employees, five times for people with disabilities, and six times for LGBTQ+ employees, compared to their counterparts in less inclusive environments.

Nadjia Yousif, Chief Diversity Officer at BCG, emphasizes the pivotal role leaders play in fostering psychological safety: “Collective buy-in from the team is important, but leaders have an outsize impact when it comes to building psychological safety. They set the tone by being role models and signaling what behaviors will be rewarded and what won’t be tolerated. Psychological safety can flourish only if it’s driven from the top.”

The report also advises employers on how to cultivate psychological safety. Recommendations include setting aside time at the beginning of meetings for interaction and engagement and presenting opportunities for team members to reflect and discuss. Additionally, the report suggests critiquing ideas rather than people, as well as transparency and openness from leaders. Creating a space of psychological safety may take some work, but the benefits from doing so are