How You Can Help Employees Speak Up About Ethical Concerns

A recent survey and report from LRN Corporation makes it quite clear that employees are not comfortable reporting ethics violations, and organizational leaders are not seen as promoting ethical behavior.

Since we know most employers strive to be ethical, where is the gap between employees and leaders? The LRN report concludes that there is too much focus on the details of reporting instead of merely encouraging employees to report. In that vein, here are some action steps employers can take to help employees feel more comfortable asking about ethical issues and letting leaders know potential ethical problems:

  • Draft policies that are clear and easy to follow. In those policies, indicate that employees are allowed to go to their supervisor if they wish or to others if they do not. Make sure your policies have a sufficient number of people who are responsible for handling ethical issues.
  • When employees complain follow a process that makes them feel valued. Make sure to capture their complaint in an extended interview, and follow up on it quickly, talking to others and gathering information so that there can be a good understanding of what took place. When the investigation is finished, provide appropriate information to the person making the complaint, and let them know if they have any other issues to bring them to your attention.
  • Communicate about your policies often. Start with onboarding, and then periodically at all employee meetings or through email.
  • Create a culture where honesty is valued. This is often done by being transparent in how business is done, and by making it clear through word and deed what is acceptable and what is not.

Ethical environments inspire trust, and trust inspires customer loyalty, which brings success. Let us help you with ethical questions you might have when working with employees.