6 Ways Tech Industry Can Build Safe Spaces for Employees

Tech employees often feel intimidated to speak up. Here are 6 ways the Tech Industry can build safe spaces for employees.

In tech, employees often feel intimidated speaking up. These strategies will help boost their confidence and make them feel safe sharing their thoughts.

When employees share their perspectives, thoughts, and opinions in the workplace, everybody wins: people feel more comfortable with one another, there is stronger teamwork, and there is greater innovation.

Why, then, do so few employees speak up?

This problem is heightened in the tech industry. Despite the clear benefits of everybody having and using a voice in software development, many people are reluctant to share their ideas or don’t feel comfortable doing so. One study of a Microsoft business unit found that nearly half of employees surveyed said they speak up about five or fewer topics with their managers.

Given that a variety of perspectives is critical to a thriving tech business, it’s clear that this cannot remain the status quo.

Why is it so difficult to speak up in Tech Industry?

Ways Tech Industry Can Build Safe Spaces for Employees

The culture

More than 90% of CEOs and CFOs say that improving their corporate culture would increase the overall value of their companies. And yet, work culture is one of the main reasons why employees feel stifled.

The tech industry is a notoriously competitive environment. Such a culture can instil fear and anxiety in employees, even the most competent and self-assured. So, it’s natural that some professionals would worry about saying the wrong thing or being ridiculed to the point where they avoid saying anything at all.

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Some employees may not vocalize their opinions simply because they aren’t asked. However, research shows that when workers believe their leader encourages them and solicits their opinions, they are more likely to speak up.

Read more: When Will Indians Be Free Of This Toxic Work Culture?

Individual personality

Of course, personality does play a role in an individual\’s likelihood of asserting themselves in the workplace. In particular, many employees lack the confidence to share their ideas — 40%, according to a study performed in collaboration with the University of North Colorado Social Research lab.

That said, strong management and leadership can override reluctant or introverted personalities. In a supportive environment, even the shyest of employees may be compelled to speak up.

Read more: 3 Steps: How To Increase Your Self-Esteem In The Workplace!

Leadership problems

Problems with leadership can stem from numerous sources. For example, some leaders in tech come from business backgrounds rather than tech backgrounds, which can lead to a disconnect between the leader and the team. Team members may worry that a manager or higher-up doesn’t understand their workflow and therefore have trouble vocalizing concerns or ideas.

Some leaders may be focused on continuing to do things the way they have always been done. In other words, they’re stuck in the past — something that can’t happen in an industry that depends on constant innovation. Again, this may lead team members to believe that vocalizing their opinions will do more harm than good with an out-of-touch leader.

These are just some of the many communication issues that can arise with poor leadership.

Read more: Want To Up-Skill? Do It At These BEST Women’s Leadership Programmes In India

How to empower employees to speak up?

Ways Tech Industry Can Build Safe Spaces for Employees

Emphasize the role of choice

Research in the Harvard Business Review found that employees were more likely to share their ideas and opinions at a company whose culture emphasized the idea that people always have a choice.

Thus, organizations should always make it clear that individuals have agency. When this is part of the culture, employees are more likely to speak up and share their thoughts. According to the author of the HBR study, this is likely because employees are able to influence their own environments while expressing their beliefs and values.

Read more: 8 Key Trends For The Future Workplace That HR Leaders In India Want You To Understand

Train employees in critical thinking

It’s said that there are no bad ideas. Well, that’s not quite true. As we all know, some ideas have greater merit than others. A main reason why employees fear speaking up is that they worry that others will perceive their ideas as stupid.

One way to help boost tech workers’ confidence in their ideas is to help them boost their critical thinking skills. Forty-five percent of employees say there is no training in critical thinking or problem-solving available to them at their organizations. How can we expect individuals to share if they lack the skills necessary to ideate confidently?

By instituting training programs to assist employees with building these important skills, you are helping them gain confidence in their own abilities.

Read more: Supriya Bhuwalka Founded Coding And More To Empower Young Girls

Take it slow

It’s unreasonable to expect employees to make a 180 immediately. Those who have been reluctant to speak up in the past aren’t going to change their ways overnight, even if you believe you have been putting measures in place to encourage their participation. Give them a chance to get comfortable, and don’t force the issue.

Encourage incremental improvements, rather than insisting on a dramatic change all at once. That means you shouldn’t be calling people out in large meetings, for example, because this will only embarrass them and push them further into their shells.

Instead, take it slow. You might start by asking them for input on a subject in which they have a lot of expertise, in a small meeting or on one, for instance.

Read more: Lower Paid, But Happy! Why Are Female Workers OK With This State Of Things?

Emphasize collaboration

Teamwork naturally promotes participation. When individuals are actively collaborating, they are sharing their ideas, vocalizing their thoughts, expressing problems or suggestions, and otherwise speaking up. It’s not as formal as a meeting, but it means that people are engaged and working together.

Collaboration offers many benefits. It is an informal means of boosting communication through a variety of channels and, ultimately, can aid the less vocal individuals in speaking up more frequently.

Read more: 8 Reasons Why Women Should Collaborate With Other Women

Make meetings valuable

Meetings can be intimidating. Some of them are necessary, and some of them are not. One way to encourage participation — the valuable kind — is to ensure that the meetings you have are valuable, too.

This means keeping your check-ins, of course, but keeping them short when there aren’t many items on the agenda. It also means making them more approachable and encouraging participation from everyone who has something to contribute — not just department heads or managers. There should also be time for questions, and it should be clear that all questions matter and none are time-wasters.

It’s also helpful to send out an agenda ahead of time and ask if anyone wants to add items or send questions, so everyone is prepared.

Read more: A Workplace Friendship That Begun Badly But Became A Good One

Foster a psychologically safe environment

Ultimately, people need to feel safe in their environments. This applies to the workplace as much as it does to the home or any other personal space.

Tech has the reputation of being cut-throat, but that’s not always the case, and it doesn’t have to be the case. When leaders make an effort toward improving their workplaces and making their employees feel psychologically safe, these employees, in turn, will be more likely to feel comfortable sharing their ideas and contributing to the culture.

Read more: Is Your Workplace Toxic? Do The Checklist!

Conclusion

Research shows that there is a link between well-being in the workplace and creative performance. Support measures need to be in place to promote not only greater participation but also a more energized and positive atmosphere — one where everyone feels comfortable speaking up, vocalizing their concerns, and sharing their innovative ideas.


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BairesDev

BairesDev is an expert partner that works with clients to build quality, scalable software solutions. read more...

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