This dialogue is from the Women in Safety Excellence WISE/ASSP. I am keeping it anonymous and invite people to own it if they so choose.
Why is psychological safety an antigen for the virus? Because trust is the underlying factor in getting people to follow the hygiene and physical distancing guidelines.
Safety Manager: I’m struggling to help my staff understand that while we are still opened i am doing everything to protect them first and protect their jobs and paychecks in the process. As a leader, I worry about all that, but they don’t see all the things that go into the decisions aim making.
Reply: My husband is dealing with the same thing as the worker. He and his peers feel the company doesn’t care about them and the profit is the only thing they care about. The management is not listening to their concerns and not doing even the minimum to protect them.
Management has said unless the government knocks on the door forcing them to shut the doors they will remain open. They are manufacturing airplane parts so there is a critical piece. But not first responder or municipality level of critical.
I have clients who have told their workers what the plan is. Such as if they are sick, they get full paid sick leave. If they are shut down, they get at least two weeks full paid. They expressed they don’t know after that and neither does anyone else. They are trying to be transparent as possible to keep worker focus on safety while working rather than being distracted. Very difficult times for everyone involved.
This is such a critical piece of the work that must be done–keeping psychological safety. The H&S function is at the forefront right now lets communicate to management that psych safety is as important as physical safety.
Advice and caution from Pam Walaski, a much respected professional:
“Get yourself in front of leadership. Give them accurate information with recommendations. Make sure of your sources though. I’ve seen a lot of social media posts (and some in this group) of poor sources and people stating things as fact when they clearly don’t know what they are talking about. That doesn’t help the profession or individual professionals.”