Employee Engagement or Psychological Safety: Which Comes First?


September 5, 2022



About This Episode

Back by popular demand is another special episode talking about engagement and psychological safety. Tim and Junior talk about which is a lead measure, which is a lag measure, and which is a consequence of the other. This episode comes from a previous webinar recorded in 2021. Give it a listen: 

Why are we talking about this? (1:00) Employee engagement surveys have been a key part of organizations for the last few years, but which comes first in the causal chain: psychological safety or employee engagement?

Employee engagement as expression (2:00). Tim shares his favorite definition of employee engagement from William Kahn and sets the stage for the discussion with the history of company culture measures. 

Our environment enables our expression (10:20). Culture is a product of our environment and our expression is also influenced by our environment. Tim and Junior explain that psychological safety enables our expression.

What is vulnerability? (15:30) Not all acts of vulnerability are created equal, but everyone experiences vulnerability across The 4 Stages. Tim and Junior discuss that rhetoric can’t change punished vulnerability in an organization, but modeling and rewarding behavior can. 

What is threat detection? (20:30) We are constantly asking the same question: am I in a safe environment or not? If we feel that we’re safe, we’ll offer a performance response. If we don’t, we’ll jump to a fear response.

The causal pathway (26:20). Employee engagement is a mediator between psychological safety and performance. 

From theory to practice (31:30). How do you model and reward vulnerability across The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety? How do you fuse respect and permission to make psychological safety happen?

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