Shaping Organizational Culture: Creating a Safe Space at Work

In their recent 2017 trends report, the American Psychological Association (APA) cites the cost of unhealthy workplaces as a major issue in the year ahead. A healthy workplace can be defined as an organizational climate where employees have:

  • A reasonable workload
  • Control over their job
  • Support when they need it

An unhealthy workplace is missing these fundamentals, lacking psychological safety, control and manageable job demands.

With recent international movements such as #metoo and #timesup we have seen the growing concern that many workplaces, across fields, sectors and industries, do not create a healthy and safe workplace for employees.

There is a need for leadership to make major changes in workplace climate and culture especially in the areas of building trust and respect. This year’s APA trends report concludes there are financial reasons for making these changes too.  When employees do not feel there is a healthy workplace, costs related to absenteeism, unproductivity and low morale can add up.

It is not an issue of if misconduct is occurring for women and men in the workplace, rather the conversation needs to be guided to what we do about it.

As a topic we are likely to talk more about in the weeks and months ahead, important questions to ask include:

  • How do we create a culture where inappropriate behavior is minimized?
  • How can we ensure every person feels respected?
  • How can open lines of communication exist without fear of retribution?
  • What role does leadership play in establishing a culture that reinforces these messages?

Leaders play a fundamental role in creating respect and trust in the workplace, building strong bonds with employees, and serving as a role model for ethical behavior. Changing organizational culture is no easy task and the conversation now turns to how we engage employees in helping to create a healthy organizational climate.

Some initial steps for organizational leaders include:

  • Having a no tolerance policy for misconduct and inappropriate workplace behavior
  • Creating open, two-way communication where employees feel comfortable and safe sharing their ideas
  • Taking action to correct factors that contribute to an unhealthy workplace
  • Walking the talk – role modeling the behavior you expect of all employees

What do you see as the next steps for your organization to create a healthy and positive work climate?

About Dr. Lesley Page

Lesley Page is an Associate Professor and Department Chair of Organizational Leadership at Lewis University. ( She is an expert in organizational change, employee engagement and emotional / spiritual intelligence.

One thought on “Shaping Organizational Culture: Creating a Safe Space at Work

  1. asad
    July 28, 2018 at 2:20 pm


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