How to Increase Employee Confidence with a Speak Up Culture

How to Increase Employee Confidence with a Speak Up Culture

Culture, leadership and values-based ethics and compliance programs increase employee confidence

According to a National Business Ethics survey, organizations with effective values-based ethics and compliance programs see an increase of employees blowing the whistle on ethical violation. These programs also decrease retaliation significantly.

As well, in cases where employees believe all management levels are held accountable for their actions, the likelihood of retaliation is lessened.

One way to minimize internal risks and non-compliance is to create an environment where employees feel like they are able to come forward with reports of wrongdoing when problems arise. And to do so without being punished.

High rates of ethics reporting give leaders a chance to identify troubling hotspots and prevent possible disasters from happening. Non-retaliation has been known to boost reporting because employees feel safe to report what they see. Also, when employees feel safe to report misconduct, that sends a clear message that management wants to create a speak up culture, and this can reduce harmful risk to the organization.

Given the importance of reporting and anti-retaliation, companies that manage their own ethics and compliance risks correctly are able to develop strong ethical cultures.

Accountability is a key ingredient in any organization, where fairness is perceived at all levels, violators at all levels are held accountable, and retaliation against whistleblowers is lessened. When organizations do not have this type of culture, retaliation can become a big problem.

Some of the findings from the survey include:

  • Reporting rates soar in companies with effective ethics and compliance programs. More report misconduct in companies with the most effective programs
  • When employees do not report in companies with effective programs it is usually because the problem has already been taken care of either by themselves or another employee
  • Over 80% of observed misconduct is either reported or taken care of by employees — only a small percentage of violations are allowed to pass without some notice in companies with effective programs
  • Reporting is high in companies with strong ethical cultures. Over 70% of employees report observed misconduct when ethical cultures are strong, compared to just 50% with weak ethical cultures
  • Confidence in management is a key motivator. Employees report misconduct the majority of the time when they believe top management is committed to ethics
  • Employees are less likely to report when misconduct involves those with more authority. When non-managers are the primary offenders, over 60% of employees report.
  • Employees are less likely to report when misconduct is more pervasive
  • Effective ethics and compliance programs mean less retaliation. Only 4% of reporters experience retaliation in companies with the most effective programs, whereas many more reporters say they face retaliation in companies with less effective programs
  • Management behavior has a significant impact on retaliation as well. Only about one in 20 employees suffer from retaliation in companies where senior leaders share credit, are perceived as doing the right thing, and treat all employees well. But retaliation rates climb to near 50% in instances when any of those behaviors are absent
  • When employees at all levels are held accountable, retaliation is not as prominent. The retaliation rate is under 20% when managers are held accountable

Organizations with effective ethics and compliance programs, and that build and encourage strong ethical cultures will have employees who feel safer in blowing the whistle when faced with an ethical dilemma.

Retaliation is also less likely in these companies as employees are less likely to retaliate against each. Higher reporting and lower retaliation help to build a strong workplace culture.

eBook: 7 Reasons to Implement a Whistleblower Hotline