How to Make It Safe for People to Speak Up at Work

Given the current environment facing libraries and library workers ─and the world in general─ (particularly as it relates to censorship, banned topics, war, etc.), many people are fearful about saying how they really feel. When people are afraid that something bad will happen to them (especially if it involves loss of employment) because of their decision to speak up, in most cases, they won’t do it. Some people live by the motto of ‘just keep your head down, do your job, and keep moving’ when it comes to being actively engaged and genuinely expressing thoughts and feelings at work. We know that if it feels dangerous and like we may be punished for sharing our ideas, concerns, disagreements, and mistakes, the likelihood of our speaking up decreases. This can result in less creativity, productivity, collaboration, and genuineness. The author of this article says, “organizations with speak-up cultures are safer, more innovative, more engaged, and better-performing than their peers.” The article asserts the idea that “When organizations encourage and reward people for sharing how they truly feel and make space for expressing emotions beyond the positive ones, it can be an advantage. When a broader spectrum of emotions is safe and welcome within organizations, we can make better, more sound, holistic, and wise decisions.” Managers who show their teams that they value their individuality and input, without the possibility of being berated for their ideas, help to create psychologically safe work environments. The library/organization as a whole reaps the benefits in boundless ways.