COVID-19 has heralded in a time of tremendous uncertainty. As a result, workers have been experiencing acute levels of anxiety and stress. Chronic stress has a broadly negative impact on employee well-being and performance and is known to provoke conflict and fragmentation in physically distanced teams. Accordingly, psychological safety -- defined as a shared belief among members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking -- is under threat in the contemporary workplace. This is a serious problem, as psychological safety is vital for healthy team functioning and effectiveness.

To investigate what organisations can do to address this challenge, we conducted a randomized controlled trial involving six weeks of online mindfulness training for 885 healthcare employees across 183 work teams. This was the largest mindfulness training study ever conducted, and the first to be done at the team level. Results show that online mindfulness training significantly improved psychological safety, but only for teams with a mindful team leader. In presenting these results, we offer the first measure of a new construct we term "mindful leadership", showing that mindful leadership is a unique leadership style that is essential for building psychological safety in work teams.

Keynote speaker

Dr Adam Kay is a Lecturer at The University of Queensland. Adam is former biotech business manager, executive consultant and coach, and international arbitration lawyer. An award winning teacher for his course "Wise Leadership", Adam's research interests include mindfulness, positive and moral psychology, conflict management, work performance, and corporate social responsibility.

 

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