September 19, 2021 | By Genevieve O'Reilly

Window on Work Values Profile, Communication, Psychological safety

Psychological safety
 By Genevieve O'Reilly  |  Estimated read: 3 minutes

In a global environment where constant change is the new norm, the need for an increased focus on mental health and wellbeing is very real. Uncertainty breeds anxiety, and when we are stressed, our ability to think and perform at our best is compromised.

But there is good news. The negative effects of our current, ever changing, global environment can be mitigated.  Looking after our colleagues by ensuring they feel accepted and supported, goes a long way to reducing the continual negative effects of stress, and helps create an environment of psychological safety.


Psychological safety is the belief that you won't be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes. In workplaces where perceptions of psychological safety are high, employees are willing to share information or knowledge; speak up on areas of improvement; and will more likely initiate new ideas that challenge the status quo (Edmondson & Lei, 2014).

Essentially, psychologically safe work environments promote clear communication, sound thinking, and enhanced creativity. When stress levels are minimised, our brain chemistry is optimised, and we perform at our best creating a win-win for both the employee and the organisation.

Psychological safety is built on trust which comes from understanding and appreciating those we work with. But how does this happen when people work remotely, or team membership keeps changing as businesses react to the rapidly morphing pandemic environment?

This is where a reliable and robust framework such as the Windows on Work Values (WoWV) model can be a useful tool to facilitate the process.

Window on Work Values Model

Window on Work Values Model

Our perceptions of our colleagues are governed by how we see them behave. If you understand someone’s values, you have a good chance of understanding and often predicting their behaviour. Values drive our actions, inform our decisions, and if threatened, can lead to defensiveness and conflict (McCann & Mead, 2018). If we understand the values of those we work with, we can appreciate what motivates them, and can accommodate and communicate accordingly.

Most people hold three or four values strongly and will spend considerable time and energy promoting and defending these. The WoWV profile enables teams to identify the alignment between personal and organisational values and explore the possible implications of any misalignment, such as conflict, disengagement and poor performance (McCann & Mead, 2018). Once core values are identified, the team can develop its own values statement and charter to guide behaviour and create a psychologically safe work environment.

At a time when uncertainty is a given, and people are even more susceptible to the impacts of stress and anxiety, creating psychologically safe workplaces is not only relevant, it’s critical to maintaining emotional wellbeing for those we work with.


September 19, 2021 | By Genevieve O'Reilly

Window on Work Values Profile, Communication, Psychological safety