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Cultivate a Speak-Up Culture To Reduce Ethical Risks

June 13, 2024

Cultivate a Speak-Up Culture To Reduce Ethical Risks

It’s increasingly important to have a workplace culture that encourages employees to speak up about unethical behavior and concerns, leading to early issue detection, reduced risk, and improved compliance, as Mitratech discusses in a recent post on its website.

Citing its own research on anonymous ethics hotline reports, Mitratech said anonymous hotline reports surged by 6,000 year-over-year in 2023. That figure indicates a notable rise in employee willingness to report issues.

More specifically, the company’s research indicates a 115 percent surge in employment law issues, a 16 percent rise in human resource and employee relations incidents, and a 29 percent uptick in ethics and legal compliance reports.

These trends underscore the growing importance of a workplace culture that encourages employees to speak up about unethical behavior and concerns, leading to early issue detection, reduced risk, and improved compliance.

A 360-degree approach to addressing workplace culture and compliance issues is based on creating a space where employees feel empowered to communicate their concerns and needs. Assessing and promoting workplace culture through openness, trust, and inclusion includes the following components:

  • Leadership commitment. Demonstrate a commitment to listening and actively support and respond to employees’ concerns with regular communication. Lead by example and visibly support those who speak up.
  • Clear policies and procedures. Establish clear and accessible policies and procedures for reporting issues. Provide multiple reporting channels such as hotlines, online portals, or designated personnel.
  • Training and awareness. Make regular training on the importance of speaking up, reporting concerns, and whistleblower protections part of both onboarding and ongoing development.
  • Non-retaliation assurance. Assure employees there will be no retaliation for reporting. Provide support with a strong non-retaliation policy that is communicated clearly and frequently.
  • Encourage open communication. Promote regular, open dialogue in a safe environment. Encourage managers to hold regular team meetings where employees can openly discuss concerns and reward those who contribute ideas and report issues.
  • Follow-up and feedback. Ensure follow-up on reported issues, demonstrating serious commitment to resolving them and maintaining employee trust.

A robust speak-up culture not only enhances ethical standards and fosters innovation but also mitigates risks and improves employee engagement. Implementing secure reporting channels and encouraging open communication are essential steps toward building a resilient and thriving organization.

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