Managing whistleblowing in your organisation

First, let’s reflect on this truth: to disclose a grievance at work and experience no retaliation is a rarity.

Whistleblowing has been an established, protected element of the workplace in the UK since 1996. Under the law, any employee who reports malpractice or wrongdoing that impacts others is protected from retaliatory action including dismissal, but in reality, this protection doesn’t appear to make much difference to those impacted.

THE AUTHOR

Lisa Pantelli, Head of Content & Community, and simplycommunicate Senior Consultant

I’m a commercially driven employee engagement and internal communication specialist. I care about helping businesses create great places to work in a way which benefits both organisation and their people.

47% of us have seen workplace malpractice, but only a fraction – 65% of those — reported it. Regrettably, 20% experienced some form of retaliation from individuals or employer. Across a workforce the size of the UK’s, these numbers are far from insignificant – more than 1.5million of us have been on the wrong end of such action.

Workplace ethics have never been more important, with many employees stating that the way an organisation manages itself to be one of the important deciding factors in taking a job. With so many “Codes of Conduct” in circulation, with employees believing workplace ethics to be important, why do we have such high malpractice, low levels of reporting and sadly, retaliation. Are HR up to the job?

Shel Holz, veteran consultant and commentator, notes that “code of conduct almost sounds disingenuous”. If businesses employ people with a strong moral compass, you’ll end up with a workforce where malpractice doesn’t happen and when it does and issues flagged, they are dealt with appropriately and fairly. After all, a whistleblower does so, at potential cost to themselves, simply because they believe others – and the company – should work to the same high standard that they do. Whistleblowing is a failure and a celebration of workplace ethics.

So while HR have done fabulous jobs in developing and communicating policy, maybe the real issue lies in recruitment – if you find the right people in the first place, malpractice is unlikely and whistleblowing an inevitability if it were to happen.

Over on simplycommunity, we’ll discuss whistleblowing and workplace ethics in more detail, discussing the roles of HR, leadership and us – employees…

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