How Do You Increase Employee Confidence with a Speak Up Culture?

A speak-up workplace culture values and encourages employees to express their fears, provide their feedback, ask questions, raise concerns, and make suggestions without fear of retaliation or any other kind of harm resulting from speaking up. Speak-up culture greatly reduces business risk, improves recruiting and retention of top talent, uplifts brand identity, and results in nearly 6x business growth. Does your organization have a speak up culture?

With the right combination of actions, insights, and technologies, you can catalyze a cultural transformation at your organization that will have quantifiable impact on performance, people and market trust.

5 Obstacles to a Speak-Up Culture

No Appreciation

It takes guts and initiative for an employee to speak up about a serious issue and many times the employee themselves is a victim. Employees may not speak up about small day to day issues if they feel like their fears may be dismissed as unimportant. Therefore, they’re not likely to speak-up about more serious issues and neither are their co-workers!

Chronic Inaction

If employees never see you respond to their concerns, they’ll quickly come to the conclusion that management isn’t interested in what they have to say because their concerns aren’t important. This is no way to build a speak-up culture and gain employee trust.

Manager Apathy

If there’s state of indifference towards reported concerns, employees are left wondering if speaking up is worth it. Without clear buy-in and engagement from management, confidence, and motivation to do the right thing will dwindle, and employees may think twice before speaking up!

No Program Support

Policies tend to be communicated once then filed away only to be forgotten. They won’t do much good if they become another pile of files in a folder. Without continual support for your program, employees will simply default to “business as usual” and may not feel the need to speak-up.

Lack of Clear Policy

You have a diverse audience so make policies easy to understand. Without clear definition of your policies, interpretation of them, and potential consequences for whistleblowing are left to the imaginations of your employees. Of course, they’ll think twice before speaking up!

How to Overcome the Obstacles to a Speak-up Culture

Thank Your Whistleblowers

Thank whistleblowers for actively contributing to the success of your organization by alerting you to issues that might otherwise have had seriously adverse long-term consequences. They deserve your appreciation! And you’ll motivate the rest of your team at the same time.

Respond Visibly

Always respond to employee input. Be diligent about offering examples on the usage of your system via sanitized cases and share any outcomes of past reports such as real breaches that occurred, or if there was a cost savings to the budget. This is an excellent opportunity to promote the benefits of speaking up.

Motivate Managers

To be front-line leaders of your speak up culture initiative, managers need to talk about ethics and behaviour, and act it. Teach managers how to communicate ethics with an emphasis on reinforcing confidence and motivation in the process. This will secure long-term success of the entire organization.

Encourage, Train and Coach

Continually communicate to employees about the speak-up culture so they truly believe that leadership is sincerely committed to creating a workplace where ethics, transparency, and personal initiative are valued. This will help employees make consistently good decisions daily in their workplace.

Define Clear Policies

Ensure your policies emphasize a zero tolerance for retaliation of any kind including threats or termination just for speaking up. Explain to employees what happens after they raise an issue. And make sure they know there’s a fair, impartial process for refuting false allegations too.

Develop an Effective and Believable Speak-Up Culture

Confidence in management’s commitment to a speak-up culture can help drive a positive change in the workplace. Effort and dedication to creating your open and collaborative workplace environment will allow employees to provide meaningful insight into any misconduct that is happening and will provide leadership with an opportunity to identify troubling hotspots and prevent possible disasters from happening.

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Additional Resources

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5 Steps to Create a Whistleblower Culture

A speak-up culture is a workplace culture that values and encourages employees to express their fears, provide their feedback, ask questions, raise concerns, and make suggestions without fear of retaliation or any other kind of harm resulting from speaking up.

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How to Develop an Effective (and Believable) Speak-Up Culture

Saying you have a speak-up culture is one thing. Actually having employees believe it is quite another. Confidence in non-retaliation is key and will boost internal conversation, anonymous or otherwise, because employees feel safe to report what they see, when they see it.

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10 Questions to Ask About a Global Ethics Hotline

Choosing a vendor to provide your ethics reporting helpline shouldn’t be a tedious task. But you may have questions about how a helpline works. How do you get the most from your whistleblower helpline? Ask these 10 questions when speaking with a vendor.

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