4 Ways Whistleblowing Can Help Your Business
As early as elementary school, people are taught that snitching and tattle-tailing are bad. This concept that you should mind your own business often carries forward into the business world in the form of whistleblowing. Like snitching in elementary school, whistleblowing requires you to go against the grain and to tell authority figures that someone has not followed a given set of rules. Generally, whistleblowers are viewed negatively. They shed light on issues in a company that can be expensive to change and can potentially damage the reputation of the company.
Nonetheless, whistleblowing can actually be positive for a company. In fact, after you learn about the benefits that whistleblowers bring to the table, you may be eager to change your workplace policies and encourage it.
How Whistleblowing Helps
Many individuals who ultimately become whistleblowers feel as though their company has no tolerance for snitching or bringing truths to light. Because of this, they may feel inclined to make their concerns public. Negative public attention is one of the reasons why whistleblowing is frowned upon.
However, whistleblowing can also be done on a more discreet level if you adopt an open-door policy with your employees. By doing so, you can become aware of issues before they become public knowledge. After all, serious, damaging issues can cost your company a huge amount of money, time and energy. When you encourage and embrace internal reporting through an open-door policy that is free of retribution, your business may benefit in these important ways.
1. Reducing the Risk of Legal Issues
It may not be possible for you to be aware of all the events that take place under your company’s roof. You can be confident, however, that your employees are aware of things that their co-workers or bosses are doing even if these fly under your radar. Some actions can put your company in legal jeopardies, such as those related to malpractice.
You understandably need to be aware of these actions as soon as possible. When you take steps to address potential legal issues immediately, you can avoid a lawsuit, criminal charges and more. By doing so, you can protect your company’s reputation, avoid legal costs and benefit in other critical ways.
2. Lowering the Chance of Media Attention
When your company does not have an open-door policy, your employees may sit and stew about their concerns until they feel that they must draw attention to the situation in a significant way. Voicing concerns internally and directly to you is usually a preferable option because it can lower the chance of your company receiving negative publicity.
Some of your employees may be concerned that they will be reprimanded in some way by voicing concerns internally, and this mentality often leads to external whistleblowing. Therefore, adopting an open-door policy and creating a solid culture based on established ethics are critical. Ensure that your employees know that retribution at any level for speaking out is not tolerated in your company.
3. Protecting Your Company’s Image
Public whistleblowing draws attention to your company’s faults. In many cases, these are major faults, such as poor work conditions, environmental issues, or even workplace harassment. When these and other issues are brought to light in a public way, your company’s reputation can be seriously damaged.
On the other hand, inviting your employees to bring concerns to your attention without retribution enables you to act before issues become public. Keep in mind that protecting your company’s image affects sales, customer loyalty and other important factors that are directly related to success and profitability.
4. Improving Your Work Environment
You can see that many issues can receive negative external attention through whistleblowing, but keep in mind that many of these issues also affect your employees’ daily work experience. For example, many of your employees who may be affected by harassment in the workplace may simply keep their mouth shut. They may become increasingly miserable until they decide to leave. This can lead to higher turnover, which can be expensive and result in lower productivity.
You understandably want all of your employees to be content and comfortable at work, so you need to be aware of serious issues that may be hindering this. Your company relies on your employees, so ensuring their work environment is comfortable will have far-reaching benefits on their job satisfaction, retention rates, and even business growth, customer satisfaction, and company reputation.
Incorporating an Open Door Policy at the Workplace
To truly reap the benefits of internal feedback and reporting, it’s not a bad idea to have a system where employees can anonymously make suggestions or alert you to problems. Including training sessions on various relevant topics in your workplace will help employees come forward and voice concerns without fearing retaliation.
Remember that you must act when serious issues are brought to your attention. Many employees will simply give up on trying to create change in a workplace when they see that nothing is changing. At that point, they may outwardly blow the whistle on serious issues, or they may leave the company. Efforts on your part to make changes should be clearly visible and should also be effective. While whistleblowing can be bad for your business, it can have positive effects if you listen to your employees’ concerns and act on them.