Employees need to know they're in safe hands

It’s been a year since I began remote working. First at the kitchen table, hunched over like Quasimodo’s long-lost sister, then with the addition of an extra keyboard and mouse because I was feeling bougie and desperately needed to straighten my spine up, and finally a big old desk I promised my other half I would turn into a dressing table “when this is all over.”

In that time I’ve picked up a fair few hobbies, turning myself into a big fat COVID cliché. I now go running (I warned you!) three times a week, enjoy painting and completing jigsaws and tuning into the endless stream of great TV. Boredom busters yes, but these hobbies also offer me something I have been unconsciously craving: safety.

People professionals are all familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (yes, I’ve gone full HR stereotype and quoted the pyramid). Once we’ve got our food, water, warmth and rest, we need to feel safe and secure. That’s not a psychological need, but a basic one.

The social unrest we have seen in the last 12 months have all been a reaction to human beings lacking this fundamental need. For black lives to matter, for women to make it home, for us all to be protected from an invisible virus – it all connects back to safety.

We live in fragile times plagued by anxiety, depression and constant comparison. But what if employment could assuage this rather than making it worse? HR has a unique opportunity to make its people feel safe – physically, psychologically and financially. 

Are you creating an inclusive culture which encourages diverse thought? Do you provide spaces for employees to come up with new ideas free from judgement? Can your employees be their true, authentic selves 100% of the time?

This safety creates a sense of belonging for employees, an essential factor if we are to create healthy and diverse workforces, as our upcoming webinar on 21 April will explore.

But more than this, it also adds validity to staff who for the past 12 months have been fighting battles in and out of the workplace. No doubt they have been questioning themselves, their work ethic, they capacity to cope with all of this. The least we can do as fellow humans is show them they’re in safe hands.


Jo Gallacher is editor of HR magazine.


This piece appears in the March/April 2021 print issue. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk.