How do you stop whistleblowers from taking their concerns directly to OSHA?
A new study shows whistleblowers only go outside their organization to report problems when they are forced to by fear, inaction or both.
The Ethics Resource Center report says only 2% of employees go solely outside to report problems.
Others may eventually go outside their companies about wrongdoing but only after they’ve tried the inside route.
So how do you stop whistleblowers from taking their concerns elsewhere? Respond quickly and effectively when employees report misconduct.
The researchers suggest executives reconsider their characterizations of whistleblowers as disloyal, self-serving employees. Instead, companies might consider how they motivate and assure workers that bringing problems to the attention of managers is effective.
Some other findings from the report:
- 65% of workers who witnessed rules violations in 2011 reported them
- 56% of those who reported misconduct took their reports to someone they know and trust inside the company, such as a direct supervisor
- only about 5% would be motivated to report outside the company for a monetary reward
- at companies showing no signs of economic recovery, 63% of those who witnessed wrongdoing reported it. That numbers goes up to 77% at companies where recovery is more evident.
Monetary incentives are more likely to motivate workers who’ve suffered pay cuts. Thirteen percent of workers whose salaries declined in the last two years said they would report wrongdoing to the government only if there was a chance for substantial financial reward.
The report recommends companies take steps to get potential whistleblowers to bring their concerns to someone within their companies.
Companies can encourage reporting by clearly defining misconduct and how to report it, demonstrating that reporting has an impact, standing behind employees who come forward and acknowledging those who report.
Rewards can be as simple as a handwritten note of thanks or recognition of the report during the employee’s annual performance review.
But if that performance review is several months off, don’t wait. Have the employee’s supervisor thank the person for their report.
What do you think about this research? How do you encourage workers to report safety problems to you? Let us know in the comments below.