Do you know why staff leave you? It may be because they don’t feel psychologically safe with you. Here’s how to fix that. “The Great Resignation” refers to an ongoing trend of workers voluntarily leaving their employment (aka “quitting”). It is a global situation many blame on the pandemic, but in reality the trend was in place prior to 2020—particularly in the health care industry (one-in-five health care workers quit their jobs in 2020-2021). Small businesses have been hit especially hard.

“Poor work environment” is one of the reasons often mentioned by workers who have left their employers, which raises the issue of psychological safety. This term was coined by Dr. Amy Edmondson in 1999 and refers to the ability of workers to feel they can express opinions and be their true selves in their work environment. 

To understand its importance, think about a situation where you feel uncomfortable—perhaps the dentist’s office, at a funeral or visiting your in-laws. Now imagine being in that environment eight hours a day five days a week, and you begin to understand why employees leave workplaces that make them feel uncomfortable.

Since optometric practices are typically small businesses in the health care industry, making the practice environment more psychologically safe can go a long way toward reducing staff turnover. A 2017 Gallup poll found environments in which the majority of employees felt psychologically comfortable enjoyed a 27 percent reduction in turnover. 

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