Will your people tell you when something is going wrong?

Whistleblowing is a term, that in my experience, causes many business people to wince.  But it’s something we should encourage in the culture of our workplaces for a number of reasons:

  1. Risk management: The people doing the work are closest to the problems and are your best early warning system. You should welcome their reports of wrong-doing or issues that may create problems with open arms since they are helping you avoid disasters
  2. Contain the problem and prevent reputation damage: You want to make sure your people feel comfortable in coming to you with reports of problems. You don’t want them to feel that they need to go outside the organisation to regulators or to the media
  3. Legislation to protect whistleblowers: There is increased recognition of the public service performed by whistleblowers and the need for legislation to protect them from retribution. In Ireland, the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 offers extensive protections to workers who make disclosures and suffer penalisation or detriment. Employers can be found responsible for detriment caused by the actions of another worker. Although the Protected Disclosures Act does not require businesses to have a policy and follow-up processes in place, it seems foolhardy not to, for the reasons given here.  The EU Whistleblower Directive which must be transposed into Irish Law by the end of 2021, will require businesses to have a policy and relevant processes

There are three main questions for business leaders to consider:

  1. Do I have fit-for-purpose policies and processes in my organisation? Often we come across outdated ‘good faith’ policies (no good faith requirement under the Protected Disclosures Act) and inadequate follow-up procedures
  2. Can I feel confident that our managers and supervisors know the basics about Protected Disclosure and are welcoming towards people who report issues?
  3. Can I honestly say that the people in my organisation feel comfortable and confident about reporting issues or suspicions of wrongdoing internally?

If you’ve any doubts about answering ‘Yes’ to any of these questions, don’t delay in acting to put it right.

At the Grey Matters Network, we have an extensive panel of experienced professionals who can help your business from an advisory capacity to implementing processes and policies within your organisation.

This article was written by one of our professionals Grainne Madden.

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