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Employee communication and psychological safety


Prof. Dr. Sabine Einwiller

Prof. Dr. Sabine Einwiller


About the research project

Titel:How employee communication can increase psychological safety in organizations

Project period: 2024 – 2025

Multidimensional and far-reaching societal changes, such as demographic change and the growing shortage of skilled workers, pose a constant challenge to companies. To remain competitive under these new conditions, companies must respond more than ever to the perspectives of their current and future employees. A work environment characterized by psychological safety has been identified as a critical success factor.

Psychological safety exists when employees engage in potentially risky behaviors in their team or organization without fear of negative consequences:

  • Employees can express their personalities and opinions,
  • Articulate criticism of team members and managers,
  • resolve conflicts,
  • and suggest creative and unorthodox solutions.

The University of Vienna study examines:

  • How can psychological safety be conceptualized as a manifestation, influence, and goal of other key concepts in employee communication?
  • Which of these theoretically formulated relationships and influences can be empirically demonstrated?
  • What impulses for the practice of employee communication can be derived from the theoretical and empirical findings?


  1. In the first step, a literature analysis is used to develop a definition of psychological safety, its manifestations, influencing factors, and target variables from the perspective of internal communication research.
  2. In a second step, the hypotheses will be empirically tested. For this purpose, a quantitative survey will be conducted among at least 1,000 employees in medium-sized and large companies in German-speaking countries.
  3. In the third step, semi-structured expert interviews with representatives of the internal communication profession will be used to evaluate measures for creating psychological safety and preventing its unintended side effects.