The dangers of speaking at work often discourage staff from expressing concerns

The dangers of speaking at work often discourage staff from expressing concerns

This interesting contribution comes from Michael Skapinker who is a contributing editor to the Financial Times and author of “Inside the Leaders’ Club: How top Companies dealing with urgent business issues.” business”).

Boeing is an employer whose workers are still hesitant to come forward with issues.

Boeing staff are still reluctant to talk about safety issues, even after a door panel on one of its planes recently burst mid-flight and hundreds of lives were lost in two previous crashes, according to an expert report. commissioned by the US Federal Aviation Administration.

The report, released last month, did not comment on these particular incidents. But he said that while Boeing had taken steps to improve its safety culture, staff were still hesitant to voice concerns because they feared retaliation.

Leaders underestimate the challenge of speaking, Reitz tells me, and even friendly bosses may not realize that staff do not consider them approachable. “People having power means they’re scary, no matter what they are like as people,” he says

 

 

The workers do not believe that their anonymity will be protected.

He noted that the plane maker’s “speak out” program, which allows employees to confidentially report safety issues, is being hampered because workers don’t believe their anonymity will be protected.

The shortcomings of Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft program have been hugely detrimental to the company. The fatal crashes of a Lion Air flight in 2018 and an Ethiop Airlines flight in 2019 grounded Boeing’s 737 Max 8 planes for 20 months.

The incident with the door panel of an Alaska Airlines flight 737 Max 9 in January of this year was another big blow

A preliminary investigation found that the plane had left the factory without the four bolts that were supposed to secure the door panel.

Persuading employees to speak up when they see something is wrong is crucial for companies to avoid a disaster

But before the two accidents, Boeing workers had reason to believe there was little point in saying anything.

A factory supervisor told his superiors that he was concerned about the cuts. “For the first time in my life, I regret to say that I have doubts about putting my family on a Boeing airplane,” he said, according to a 2020 US Congressional Transportation and Infrastructure Committee report. He was ignored.

It’s not just about Boeing. It can be difficult to speak up in any organization

Being ignored isn’t the worst thing. They could pass him over for a promotion (which is what Boeing workers feared, according to the experts’ report), deny him a bonus, or even kick him out. As a whistleblower at British bank Barclays discovered in 2016, your boss could try to find out who you are.

Bosses aren’t the only problem either.

Staff who speak out have to deal with the reaction of their colleagues; They may worry about being associated with the person raising the problem.

Good question the author asks: What happens if managers think they are troublemakers too?

People who express uncomfortable opinions in business meetings may find that others avoid their gaze.

Megan Reitz, an associate fellow at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, says employees are often afraid to raise concerns, even in organizations with supposedly flat hierarchies and collaborative cultures.

 

Power is always scary

Leaders underestimate the challenge of speaking up, Reitz tells me, and even friendly bosses may not realize that staff don’t consider them approachable. “People having power means they’re scary, no matter what they are like as people,” he says.

An earlier article Reitz wrote with fellow researcher John Higgins in the Harvard Business Review found that even the supposedly welcoming phrase “my door is always open” contains a number of assumptions. “First of all, people should meet you on your territory, not the other way around. Secondly, you have the luxury of having a door. Third, you can choose when to close it or open it.”

If leaders really want to listen to what is happening in their organizations, they should reward people who point out problems to them. They should be praised in company communications; receive bonuses instead of being denied them

 

So what can leaders do to encourage staff to come forward with their issues?

Reitz says phrasing questions in a non-threatening way can help. Instead of simply asking for feedback, ask for one or two things that could be improved. He adds that formal meetings are usually not the best places to do this, as people feel protected.

The importance of a culture with practical and realistic measures

The FAA experts’ report quoted James Reason, a safety expert, as saying: “A safety culture is not something that emerges from a near-death experience; rather it emerges gradually from the persistent and successful application of practical and realistic measures. There is nothing mystical about it. Acquiring a safety culture is a collective learning process, like any other.”

This can be a particular challenge when a company makes significant job cuts, as Boeing did as a result of the Max grounding and the pandemic.

One of the report’s recommendations was that Boeing ensure that every question raised receives a response

One employee frustration was that those who spoke up about a safety issue didn’t always know what happened next. Boeing said: “We will carefully review the panel’s assessment and learn from its findings, as we continue our comprehensive efforts to improve our safety and quality programs.”

Employees respond to incentives too

If leaders really want to hear what’s going on in their organizations, they should reward people who point out problems to them. They should be praised in company communications; receive bonuses instead of being denied them. They could be saving not only the reputation of the company but also that of its leaders.

 

Why employees hesitate to speak up at work and how to encourage them

The following contribution is from Kyle Brykman, Assistant Professor of Management, University of Windsor, and Jana Raver, E. Marie Shantz Professor of Organizational Behavior, Queen’s University, Ontario.

 

Picture this: You notice a problem that could be disastrous for your company’s reputation, or you have an idea that could save you thousands of dollars.

You want to say something but you’re not sure if you should. You’re afraid it won’t turn out well and you’re not sure it will make a difference. You want to talk, but you’re not sure how to express your ideas in such a way that people will actually listen.

You want to say something but you’re not sure if you should. You’re afraid it won’t turn out well and you’re not sure it will make a difference. You want to talk, but you’re not sure how to express your ideas in such a way that people will actually listen

 

 

You’re not alone. Studies consistently show that employees are reluctant to speak up

And they are even programmed to remain silent: 50% of employees are silent at work. Why is this and how can we help people express their opinions at work more effectively?

 

To speak or to be silent?

Employee voice (speaking with ideas, concerns, opinions or information) is vital to organizational performance and innovation. On the other hand, silence is the root of many well-known organizational disasters.

For example, the Phoenix pay system debacle in Canada, which has already cost the federal government $1.5 billion, was attributed to a culture that “does not reward those who share negative news.” Employees who raised alarms were told they were not “playing as a team.”

Phoenix Contact of Canada offers innovative products and solutions for all aspects of connection technology, electronics and automation.

The voice of employees is the antidote to this culture of silence

But it is not easy to encourage it. Employees withhold their voice because they think they won’t be heard or fear it could backfire by embarrassing their managers or damaging their own reputations. These reservations are reasonable.

Although speaking up is generally linked to positive career outcomes, in some circumstances it can lead to lower social status in the office and lower performance ratings.

The importance of openness of managers

Both the proactive personality of employees and the demonstrated openness of managers are relevant to overcoming these reservations. While we can’t change someone’s personality, leaders can create more welcoming environments that support and encourage voice.

Encourage workers to express their opinions

For example, employees are more likely to speak up when they believe their leader encourages them and solicits their opinions. By contrast, when leaders punish employees who dare to express their concerns or ideas, for example by publicly reprimanding them, voice quickly diminishes.

Pointing out others’ mistakes or sharing ideas that go against common practice can make things change.

So how can employees find ways to express themselves effectively and have their ideas heard, despite these risks?

Our research sought to answer this question by focusing on the quality of the messages employees express.

Talk or shut up? Employee voice (speaking with ideas, concerns, opinions or information) is vital to organizational performance and innovation. On the other hand, silence is the root of many well-known organizational disasters

 

 

High quality voice

We first look at what we call high-quality voice and discover key ways employees can improve their messaging to gain greater recognition. We investigated these ideas with five studies involving almost 1,500 participants.

We identified four critical characteristics of employee voice attempts that make them higher quality:

– They have a solid reason. Their ideas and opinions are logical and based on evidence. Employees should do their homework first and present compelling arguments for their ideas by showing that they have put a lot of thought into them. They should not speak if they have not gathered information or first thought about why their ideas are being implemented.

– They have high viability. Their ideas are practical and have the potential to be implemented. Employees should consider whether their organizations can realistically take action on their suggestions, for example taking into account time or resource constraints and providing details on how to implement them. Employees should not ignore the realities and difficulties leaders face in doing something about their ideas and concerns.

– They have a strong organizational focus. Their opinions are critical to the success of the organization or team, and are not only personally beneficial to the employee. Workers should emphasize the collective benefits of their voice and link it to the organization’s visions, mission, and/or goals, for example by explaining how it will help the organization as a whole. They should not focus on issues that only affect themselves, otherwise they will appear selfish.

– They have a high novelty. Employees are innovative and take into account new perspectives or points of view. They should consider whether their organization has tried (or considered) this idea before and clarify what makes it particularly unique, for example by contrasting it with typical conventions or opinions. They should not simply repeat old ideas or approach the situation with the same frame of mind.

Putting energy into developing higher-quality voice messages takes effort, but our research shows it’s worth it. Employees who regularly presented a higher quality voice were considered more worthy of promotion and performed better at their jobs.

 

Why don’t employees talk? It’s often because managers don’t encourage it.

Healthy and happy workplaces encourage workers to express their opinions. These positive results were evaluated by both peers and managers. And these findings held regardless of how often employees spoke, whether the evaluator liked them, or considered them competent. Basically, speaking with higher quality messages predicted job performance and promotion prospects above and beyond all of these other factors.

So are there any disadvantages to speaking? Yes, if you do not dedicate time and energy to ensuring that your contributions are of high quality.

When people often spoke with low-quality ideas, their peers reported that they performed worse and were less promotable. Therefore, talking can backfire if employees consume all their airtime by frequently expressing low-quality ideas that offer little help to anyone.

The voice of the employees is the antidote to this culture of silence. But it is not easy to encourage it. Employees withhold their voice because they think they won’t be heard or fear it could backfire by embarrassing their managers or damaging their own reputations

 

 

Is it worth talking?

The lesson? It’s worth speaking up and sharing your ideas and concerns (and it can help your career), but if you do, be sure to do your homework first, reflect on the feasibility of implementation, connect the benefits to the organization and/or its employees. and consider what makes it particularly novel.

How leaders can help

What can organizational leaders do to help employees express their opinions more effectively?

When asking for feedback, ask a few questions. For example:

– What is the logic of this idea?

– Is there evidence to support it?

– How could we actually implement it and overcome the barriers?

– How does this fit within the organization’s priorities and/or help other employees?

– What’s new about this idea that we haven’t tried before?

These questions can produce higher quality ideas that will benefit employees, leaders, and organizations alike.

Ultimately, increasing the quality of employee feedback and opinions will help them be heard. It will also result in ideas that are more likely to be implemented and improve working conditions and performance across the organization.

 

Culture of expression and denunciation

The following contribution corresponds to the Ethical Systems portal, which is based on the conviction, backed by research, that, in the long term, good ethics is good business.

He maintains that his contributors are top researchers (most of them professors at leading business schools) who believe that wise leaders take a holistic, systematic approach to organizational culture to foster greater integrity in business.

Housed in NYU Stern’s Business and Society Program, Ethical Systems’ mission is to leverage the research of academic leaders to transform the ethical practice of business in the corporate world.

The article is signed by Alison Taylor, who is the executive director and who signs in collaboration with Melanie Lange and Brian Harward.

Speaking within an organization can be seen as a risky exercise of employee voice that, like other prosocial behaviors, is more likely to occur under safe conditions.

 

 

Helpful and personal information that makes you feel valued

Companies thrive when potentially useful information is freely available and employees feel that they are valued and important members of the organization.

A culture of free speech is crucial on both counts: it means that management can receive important information from anyone who has it, and it means that employee autonomy is recognized and respected. However, the effectiveness of speaking depends on the actions taken in light of new information.

Pointing out the mistakes of others or sharing ideas that go against common practice can make things change. So how can employees find ways to express themselves effectively and have their ideas heard, despite these risks?

 

 

Complaint mechanisms are also a fundamental part of any compliance program

Employees are often reluctant to report observed wrongdoing due to internal power dynamics, so it is important to provide them with an anonymous mechanism to voice concerns and an investigative process to follow up on allegations. There is still considerable evidence that whistleblowers are frequently penalized for their efforts, despite government awards for whistleblowing.

If a company can build a credible and reliable communication mechanism, this will greatly help in efforts to implement an ethical culture.

There is always risk when sharing information

Of course, there is always the risk that openly sharing information will reveal truths that are harmful to company personnel or the entire organization.

There is also the complementary risk that someone will present false information that will spread quickly and cause damage before anyone can correct it. When speech prevails, employees also realize that they themselves are susceptible to greater scrutiny.

The when and the how

In recent years, attention has also focused on questions about when and how speaking out can morph into denunciation (i.e., public shaming for an alleged moral violation), which can undermine trust and increase fear.

Social media (including internal channels like Slack) has made it possible for anyone to report others, and awareness of this reality is growing.

More broadly, companies and their executives are finding that legal confidentiality provisions and public relations efforts are less effective as a result of social media, meaning their actions are increasingly subject to lawsuit in the Public ambit.

These competing benefits and risks of speaking openly lead to several questions:

– What mechanisms should exist to allow concerns about possible irregularities to be shared privately?

– How can companies respond to new demands for transparency without discovering that they have unknowingly created a culture of surveillance?

– How can information exchange be promoted without also generating greater risk?

Ideas to apply

– Think of speaking as part of employees’ jobs and the information they provide as part of what they bring to the company.

– Make sure the consequences of giving and receiving feedback motivate you to offer, request, and incorporate it.

– Be transparent when responding to comments to reinforce employee trust and their decision to speak out.

– Use employee feedback both in daily work and to improve policies and processes.

– Create feedback systems to capture insights from comments and dissent, and advertise by providing them and using them as the standard.

– Recognize how threatening negative feedback can be when applied to a person rather than an attitude or practice, and provide employees with training, resources, and models to take negative feedback as an opportunity for growth and learning, rather than as a threat.

– Focus on highlighting the need, request and motivation for change, rather than imposing punishments (even when concrete negative consequences are implemented).

Employees should do their homework first and present convincing arguments for their ideas by showing that they have put a lot of thought into them. They should not speak if they have not gathered information or have not first reflected on why their ideas are being implemented

 

 

Research areas

Talk

Speaking within an organization can be seen as a risky exercise of employee voice that, like other prosocial behaviors, is more likely to occur under safe conditions (Jolly & Lee, 2020).

Employees are more likely to speak up when their basic needs for relatedness and competence are met by inclusive behaviors of their leaders (i.e., communication, openness, and accessibility) and when they have reason to expect that doing so will be productive and safe.

The figure of a third party

An anonymous third party can provide a safe platform to discuss more serious matters, such as violations of policies or laws or personal misconduct. These channels offer the company the opportunity to resolve problems without referring them to the media, lawyers, or the government. Employees may also believe that their anonymity is better protected through these mechanisms.

Assess the feedback

The challenge of creating a thriving communication culture comes down to creating a climate where feedback is welcomed and used effectively, empowering employees to use their voice despite common fears, and channeling expression through appropriate channels. (i.e. internal processes) rather than creating the opportunity for this information to be forced through more damaging external or public routes.

Psychological Safety

The strength of a speaking culture depends in part on the presence of psychological safety (e.g., Kahn, 1990), meaning that employees’ willingness to speak up depends on whether they believe they will be vulnerable to negative consequences as a result of speaking out. your opinions, ideas or observations.

Make sure talking is safe

Employees are more likely to speak in the context of systems that make doing so neither “useless” nor “dangerous” (Morrison and Milliken, 2000, p. 721).

As expected, psychological safety strongly predicts the use of prohibitive voices (expressions of employee concern about work practices, incidents, or employee behavior) to communicate concerns within organizations (Liang et al., 2012).

The importance of contributing as part of the job

When employees specifically feel that it is part of their job to contribute to bringing about constructive change, known as “felt obligation to constructive change” (Fuller et al., 2006), they are particularly likely to use promotional voice (employees’ expression of new ideas or suggestions).

The use of promotional voice, in turn, is associated with higher organization-based self-esteem (believing oneself to be a more competent and valued member of the organization) (Pierce et al., 1989), which in turn predicts promotional voice. in a virtuous circle.

Your ideas are practical and have the potential to be implemented. Employees should consider whether their organizations can realistically take action on their suggestions, for example taking into account time or resource constraints and providing details on how to implement them

 

 

Facilitate employee voice from management

Employees’ use of voice can come to be seen as part of their job rather than at odds with it, and managers can come to understand that their work generates and facilitates employee voice as intended. they make with other employee contributions (Coqual, 2020).

For example, a manager can remind her team that while she is responsible for the overall performance and direction of the team, everyone is there because their perspectives and opinions are considered valuable and she expects each of them to take responsibility for sharing the insights. ideas and information they need. aware that this can impact the team’s work.

When time to talk is necessary

When speaking occurs throughout employees’ work and not as a “second job,” the time allocated to projects requires the time and energy needed to speak. Managers also reach out directly and regularly for feedback, as would be expected if they find it valuable.

 

Training on how to speak

Companies can also encourage expression by providing relevant resources to employees at all levels. Employees can receive explicit training on how to speak up, particularly in the moment before a situation has had a chance to escalate in severity or complexity.

Train middle managers in relevant competencies

To combat managers’ fear of negative feedback, companies can train them in relevant competencies (e.g., active listening, replacing defense mechanisms with coping strategies that support communication) and demonstrate that listening and acting on feedback Employee feedback boosts managers’ careers.

When perceived organizational politics give rise to a complicated social context, psychological uncertainty occurs and employees are less likely to speak up.

Research by Li & Farh (2020) showed that psychological uncertainty reduced the likelihood that employees would speak up

beyond the effects of psychological safety, and that reduced the likelihood of speaking about both suggestions (promotional voice) and concerns (prohibitive voice) ( Van Dyne et al., 2003 ).

Reduce the impact of psychological uncertainty

Li and Farh (2020) also found that having more job autonomy mitigated the negative influence of psychological uncertainty on promotional voice, while perceiving greater job security reduced the impact of psychological uncertainty on prohibitive voice.

How incidents are handled when they arise and are reported is also crucial to making employees feel that it will be productive (and safe) to talk. For employees to speak, they must trust the recipients of the information they share, which requires that responses to that information be active and transparent (Coqual, 2020).

The theory of the spiral of silence (Noelle-Neumann, 1974; Moy and Scheufele, 2000)

It suggests that not speaking up makes others less likely to speak up, by making the climate of opinion appear less diverse than it is.

Increasingly, one opinion may appear predominant as it becomes increasingly unusual and uncomfortable to express what appear to be minority opinions. Sharing a different perspective breaks the illusion of consensus and makes it seem more normal for others to share their thoughts, even when they differ among themselves.

They have a strong organizational focus. Their opinions are critical to the success of the organization or team, and are not only personally beneficial to the employee

 

 

The benefits of promoting employee voice may be greatest in the areas that present the most complex challenges

This is because employees, especially younger ones, may be better equipped to address the systemic challenges that businesses face today, challenges that require an exploratory response as they currently lack solutions (Taylor, 2020).

Contributions instead of threats

Rather than being threatening, the ideas and information that employees share can be seen as contributions that support a company’s ability to adapt.

The same applies to internal reporting, where higher rates of internal reporting do not correlate with more serious or frequent problems in a company, but instead indicate “open communication channels between employees and management and the belief that the issues raised will be addressed,” and actually predict lower fines and fewer lawsuits (Stubben & Welch, 2018).

Organizational diversity may also be a factor in creating greater psychological safety (Newman et al., 2017).

However, the benefits of diversity alone are unclear in terms of job expression and performance (Eagly, 2016) and these may depend on additional factors such as organizational climate (Cropley & Cropley, 2017).

Companies with so-called 2-D diversity, which consists of inherent (demographic) and acquired (gained from experience) diversity, outperform others in innovation and performance, and are 45% more likely to have increased their share of market compared to the previous year and 70% more likely to have captured a new market, according to employee reports (Hewlett et al., 2013).

 

However, diversity can be really harmful without psychological safety

Newman (2017) reported that diversity of (acquired) experience was more positively associated with performance in the presence of high psychological safety, and negatively associated with performance when psychological safety was low.

In other words, psychological safety may be easier to achieve with diversity

But diversity alone is not enough.

Promoting employee voice is particularly important:

– when the characteristics of top management differ from those of its employees.

– when the value and relevance of different perspectives must be made explicit (i.e. included in the job description, responded to and used, sought frequently for input).

– to overcome automatic assumptions and fears that arise from highlighted differences.

Individual resistance to speaking

Psychological safety is inhibited by the way humans have evolved to manage threats. Various psychological self-preservation processes can limit the possibility of speaking, due to fear of consequences in multiple ways. Milliken et al. (2003, p. 1453) concluded that the most frequently cited reason for not speaking up within an organization was “fear of being viewed or labeled negatively and, as a consequence, damaging valued relationships.”

Employees may fear, even without justification, that leadership will respond negatively to constructive criticism.

Which will result in useful ideas never being expressed. Patricia Harned, president of the Ethics Resource Center, specified that employee behavior depends on their perception of risk of retaliation, even if that perception is inaccurate (McGregor, 2014). Not only are employees less likely to speak up when they fear repercussions, they are also more likely to encourage their colleagues to remain silent, engage, and remain in their jobs.

There is also a sense that the possible future benefits of speaking out are uncertain and delayed, while reversal seems more likely or imminent (Detert & Edmondson, 2007; Kish-Gephart et al., 2009).

They have a high novelty. Employees are innovative and take into account new perspectives or points of view. They should consider whether their organization has tried (or considered) this idea before and clarify what makes it particularly unique, for example by contrasting it with typical conventions or opinions

 

 

Silence as default behavior

Because people struggle to act on fear and delay gratification, the default behavior is to remain silent. Silence is even more likely for those who feel socially rejected or powerless to speak up as well (Kim et al., 2019).

Knowing this, it is also predictable that humble bosses may allow more talking (Lin et al., 2019; Rego et al., 2020).

Employees are less likely to speak up when managers perceive that they know better, that employees have self-interest, and that dissent is negative and opposed to unity, rather than that dissent and even conflict are normal and a source of value for the company (Morrison and Milliken). , 2000).

Not incorporating a pluralistic vision

When management beliefs do not incorporate a pluralistic view of dissent, even diverse organizations fail to reap the fruits of their pluralism, as it cannot be reflected or capitalized on when employees lack voice.

Rhetoric that favors employee empowerment but is accompanied by tightly controlled participatory practices also fails to encourage expression, as these practices implicitly indicate the unacceptability of autonomy and exploration.

Sensitivity to what can be said

Employees are sensitive not only to managers’ orientation toward change, but specifically to their openness to what employees may say.

Detert and Burris (2007) found that managerial openness predicted improvement-oriented voice more than transformational leadership (another form of change-oriented leadership), and that this effect was mediated by perceptions of psychological safety.

Calling

Since 2016, the prevalence of callout culture, also often described as cancel culture, has increased.

Most of this discourse relates to people, who may or may not have been famous beforehand, whose reputations and/or careers are affected by viral social media criticism.

The nature of the discourse around calling has changed markedly in recent years, indicating changes in opinions about the risks and rewards of calling. An Atlantic headline in 2017 read “The Destructiveness of Whistleblowing Culture on Campus,” while in 2020 we read “Not Whistleblowing Culture.” It’s Responsibility,” suggesting that some have embraced the power of calling. Calls can be justified and effective as a mechanism for change, generating public awareness and consequences for otherwise untouchable people in positions of power. However, calls by nature take effect outside of a context of reasoned debate or due process, and increasingly occur off campus and with individuals and companies as targets. More details about the evolution of the cancellation can be heard in a New York Times podcast with Jonah Engel Bromwich (2020).

The culture of whistleblowing has also been a huge problem on some university campuses

As students have sought to harness the power of public criticism against university professors or administrators regarding curricula, guest speakers, and other options deemed to undermine safety among students. Recently, safety has grown to include disrespect and, to some extent, even discomfort, meaning that certain types of rigorous speech are moderated or redirected, if not prohibited (Lukianoff & Haidt, 2019; Dustin et al. ., 2020).

Of course, discourse on some topics generates high levels of discomfort that inhibit speaking.

For example, a transgender person may report behavior as transphobic, only to face insults and dehumanizing responses. But when questionable opinions or behavior are deemed unsafe without opportunity for further investigation and discussion, demands for cancellation or silencing are indisputable edicts of unclear merit.

Why don’t employees speak? It is often because managers do not encourage it. Healthy and happy workplaces encourage workers to express their opinions. These positive results were evaluated by both peers and managers

 

 

The risk of eliminating critical thinking

When universities stifle debate rather than restructure it, critical thinking skills risk being underdeveloped; In organizations and public discourse, appeals can create tribal popularity contests rather than thoughtful social change.

Given the human mind’s tendency to put intuition before rationality, calls can easily become vehicles for thoughtless agreements and approval-seeking. Reports can also be accompanied by doxing, threats, and job loss.

The appropriateness of reporting depends on the availability of alternative channels and the nature of the violation. While complaints may lead to appropriate investigations and inquiries, they typically also lead to inevitable and almost instantaneous social judgment and reputational damage.

While the main focus of discussion on communication culture has not been private sector organizations, companies are also experiencing the consequences of a new focus on transparency, open communication and employee voice. This has taken several forms.

Radical transparency in organizations

A clear manifestation of call-out culture appeared in companies where senior managers made the deliberate decision to introduce “radical transparency” into their cultures and management systems. The ideas of radical transparency have been interpreted in different ways.

At Google, employees historically had access to almost any internal document. After internal protests over sexual harassment agreements and trade relations with the governments of China and the United States, some of this access was terminated.

At Amazon, desk phones encouraged employees to give critical feedback about their colleagues. At Bridgewater, employees were instructed to hold each other accountable by applying a set of “Principles.” Almost everything was recorded on video and senior executives could be reprimanded in what were known internally as “public hangings.”

On Netflix, it is important to “shed light” on your misdeeds through public confessions. At Away, private emails or communications were completely prohibited.

 

In all of these examples, the stated intention has been to reduce the toxic impact of hierarchy

Bring the best ideas to light and make more employees willing to speak their minds in the name of creativity and innovation. In all cases, the management teams in question have subsequently been criticized for introducing cultures of harassment, stress and insecurity.

It is worth talking and sharing your ideas and concerns (and it can help your career), but if you do, make sure to do your homework first, reflect on the feasibility of implementation, connect the benefits to the organization and/or your employees and consider what makes it particularly novel

 

 

At Google, internal employee access to sensitive information has been significantly reduced

It appears that transparency—at least when implemented through high-control measures—does not always act as a panacea and is insufficient to eliminate the negative impacts of hierarchy. Cultures of radical transparency seem very inclined to lean towards cultures of surveillance.

The seriousness of being called should not be underestimated. What is at stake in questions of moral misconduct is nothing less than whether an individual should be included in society: whether someone is an acceptable and desirable interaction partner. As a practice that raises the specter of exclusion, it is to be expected that reporting can reduce trust and ultimately lead to the shutting down of information sharing.

Calls and their consequences apply within and across ideological lines

People can feel weakened and insecure even among others who share their general values and perspectives. Organizations risk reputational damage by association when one of their employees, particularly those in leadership positions, is criticized.

From the perspective of the target, or someone who fears becoming a target

The calls appear to have to do with surveillance. Instead of the few watching over the many, as in philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s classic example of the panopticon, there are now many watching over (Tucker, 2018).

Announcements differ from this structure in that social media makes everyone capable of yelling or being called out. Everyone can participate in the digital playing field, even if popularity and follower numbers can unlevel it.

The calls are also applied differently, revealing information and subjecting the target to others’ responses to their behavior, rather than directly implementing consequences or restrictions.

It is from this perspective that complaints run the risk of falling into hypocrisy and undermining the openness and justice they ostensibly seek to increase. For true surveillance to occur, it must occur in the context of an imbalance of power or privilege to initiate surveillance (e.g., governments or companies installing cameras) and limit the actions of targets to match what is defined as acceptable behavior (e.g. fines or reprimands).

More recently, whistleblowing has begun to be used as a primary tool of worker activists. Claims and cancellation create a “haphazard” “culture of accountability” by making public knowledge that had not previously been available for others (potentially including the legal system) to respond to (Bromwich, 2018).

The leak of confidential internal information

Employees who are angry about abuses of power by executives, or about business and strategic decisions, are increasingly likely to leak sensitive internal information to the media or social media in an effort to hold their employers accountable.

Deceased Facebook and Google executives have given media interviews criticizing the values of their former employers. More than 350 Amazon employees broke their confidentiality agreements to criticize Bezos’ decision to contribute $10 billion to fight climate change while maintaining the company’s business with oil and gas companies.

 

Employees at the Big Four accounting firms posted an anonymous ad supporting the protests in Hong Kong. Workers at Whole Foods and Ogilvy questioned relationships with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Wayfair staff walked out to oppose dealings with immigration detention centers. At Nike, female employees achieved considerable success through coordinated complaints about executive impunity for allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination.

The possibility of being called and the severity of the consequences of a call can make people feel uncomfortable and even fearful, particularly when they are unsure what actions might trigger a call or an attempt to cancel them.

Companies thrive when potentially useful information is freely available and employees feel that they are valued and important members of the organization. A culture of free speech is crucial on both counts: it means that management can receive important information from anyone who has it, and it means that employee autonomy is recognized and respected

 

 

Employees who limit themselves

This leads to people with certain opinions, or simply a more cautious personality, limiting their own free expression in public to avoid repercussions and, more damagingly, not having the opportunity to explore and potentially modify these opinions, even when they do. wish.

Regardless of intent, the way people deliver information in the context of a call also has an impact

Calls are public in nature, and while individuals’ concerns may be nuanced and prosocial, in general individuals’ ideas tend to “shrink” as their audiences broaden, becoming “less open to debate, less “oriented to express a connection with the world at large, less public-spirited and more insistently selfish” than when expressed privately (Eliasoph, 1998, p. 7).

Shape the behavior of others?

To some extent, calling is inevitably about control, since the goal is to somehow shape the behavior of others.

However, fundamentally it is about regaining control over oneself. The case of Harvey Weinstein is paradigmatic: the producer had enormous control over the success of actresses’ careers, and exposing his behavior and allowing others to respond restored individuals’ control over their own careers and bodies. .

This case is an example of criminal behavior, almost universally condemned, and the call also helped draw attention to the inexcusable treatment of women in Hollywood and beyond, where men in positions of power take advantage.

Unfortunately, some claims may arise from a motive of social advancement (Campbell & Manning, 2014). Moral grandstanding, also known as virtue signaling, is defined as the use of moral discourse to seek social status (Tosi & Warmke, 2016; 2020a; 2020b; Grubbs et al., 2019) and occurs when the expression of moral concern is motivated by a desire: to increase one’s position rather than fulfilling the communicative function of sharing unknown information.

These moral signals tend to lead to divergence rather than convergence of opinions, and to greater conflict.

It may also foster a greater general expectation—known as naïve cynicism (Kruger & Gilovich, 1999)—that others act from self-centered motives, even when this is not the case. Less trust in the sincerity of others and a hesitancy to interpret outrage as a reliable signal of injustice can, in turn, undermine the possibility of productive discourse.

Because complaints are fundamentally communications of moral violation and social unacceptability, they must be handled carefully, especially in an organizational setting. They express that the target of the call has behaved in a way that ultimately makes them disadvantageous interaction partners who are best avoided (Baumard and Sheskin, 2015).

 

Even when information sharing is not public, concerns about the consequences of exposing it can cause people to bury information that they fear will be reacted badly to.

Employees may, for example, refrain from reporting inappropriate or harmful behavior from coworkers or bosses because they anticipate that the consequences will be different or greater than they would expect (e.g., zero-tolerance policies), even when they want the behavior to stop. (Feldblum & Lipnic, 2016; Bille, 2020).

In an organizational context, limitations on information sharing, lack of inclusion, and a more negative climate can hinder the potential benefits of ideological/cognitive diversity (Mitchell et al., 2021; Narayan et al., 2020; Rahmi, D. Y., & Indarti ; Younis,2019)

These exclusionary practices can also have a negative impact on team performance (Swigart et al., 2020). Not only trust, but also team trust consensus (i.e., similar levels of trust among all members of a team) are important predictors of team performance (De Jong et al., 2020).

Depending on how they are made, appeals can undermine trust and its positive effects by highlighting that membership in a collective is conditional and turning exclusion into an imminent threat.

The primary threat of a call may also be the key to using the tool in a way that maximizes its positive effects and minimizes its negative ones.

There is also the complementary risk that someone presents false information that spreads quickly and causes damage before someone can correct it. When speech prevails, employees also realize that they themselves are susceptible to greater scrutiny

 

 

Unacceptability of ideas and people

As Kimberly Foster, founder of For Harriet, has noted, meaningful engagement to change culture requires distinguishing between the unacceptability of ideas and the unacceptability of people. As she says, harmful ideas that are perpetuated “must go… but people themselves can recover” (Bromwich, 2018).

This yelling approach recognizes the reality that the target’s behavior is unacceptable to the calling party and, in effect, makes him or her a disadvantageous interaction partner as long as he or she engages in that behavior. At the same time, it avoids essentializing the recipient’s moral judgments and does not threaten him with categorical and permanent exclusion. Instead, the legend serves as a statement of an individual or group’s terms of commitment.

The phrase calling has been used to describe calls that emphasize “getting back” the target while also encouraging him or her to let go of the called behavior.

The global think tank and advisory group Coqual (2020) encourages emphasizing trust and partnership to reduce people’s fears of being called out, as well as giving potential targets more certainty and security by clearly signposting opportunities for them to participate, providing scripts to work through a call and having leaders share their own stories of successful repair and growth after a call.

While calls often take the form of moral judgments, they are most productive when they function to share information about the impact of a target’s actions.

Discussions about complaints often become efforts to determine whether one or both sides are wrong and whether the moral judgment implicit in the complaint is fair. Instead, focusing on the impact of the victim’s actions may allow you to treat the call as an opportunity to learn and improve practices, and avoid being distracted by the need for forgiveness (Matei, 2019).

Suggestions for future research

Discover factors that improve or hinder speaking effectiveness, such as situational factors, communication method, and job function.

Compare the relative usefulness of speaking out in different issue areas, such as equal treatment of employees and financial misconduct.

Investigation of conflicts between valued beliefs, long-held habits, or cultural norms that are important to an employee’s identity and organizational practices and values.

Analyze the effectiveness of strategies to empower silent or hesitant employees to speak more freely.

Examine the role of speaking in non-exploratory processes and with opportunities for more streamlined input.

 

 

The benefits of creating a culture of expression at work

The following contribution is by Jonathan H. Westover, PhD, who is a professor of organizational leadership and development consultant at the Woodbury School of Business (WSB) at Utah Valley University (UVU) and is also an author, as well as the creator of an award-winning podcaster specialist in Leadership, human resources, innovation, future of work and culture Global thought leader. He is a recognized guru of Social Impact and Innovation

Early in my career, I was in a management trainee position at a large corporation where I had the opportunity to do extended rotations across every division and across every functional aspect of the business. I learned a lot as I was able to see the inner workings of the company from all angles.

As many organizations do, this corporation wanted to encourage innovation and new initiatives. If an employee witnessed a systemic inefficiency or employee behavior that needed to be corrected or had a creative new idea for a product or process innovation that fit the mission and strategy, they could write a description of the problem and propose a solution.

Think about speaking as part of the employees’ job and the information they offer as part of what they contribute to the company. Make sure the consequences of giving and receiving feedback motivate you to offer, request, and incorporate it

 

 

If an idea was selected, the employee would receive recognition and a bonus

Since I had just finished my master’s program and was going through all my rotation assignments, I saw a lot of things that I thought could be improved, so I submitted a dozen different proposals for this innovation initiative.

However, I quickly began to lose steam, as two things happened that put a brake on my personal initiative. First, I was called into my boss’s office and told to essentially “calm my engines” since I was still relatively new to the organization, learning the ins and outs, building relationships, etc. sending wrong messages: he did not work as a team and thought he knew more than others. In many ways, this seemed like good political advice, so I agreed to spend more time observing and learning.

However, the second thing that really chilled my initiative was when I began to observe the organization, including my boss, making many of the changes I had proposed. Normally this would be exciting and validating, but he just pissed me off and made me zone out. You see, they took credit for my ideas. I never received any recognition for any of the proposals I submitted and I never received any bonuses.

And it wasn’t long before he decided to leave the company.

What is ‘communication culture’?

Have you ever been part of an organization that discouraged or even punished its employees from speaking up, pointing out problems, or trying to disrupt the status quo in any way? If so, how much disruption and innovation was there in this organization? Probably not much.

Culture of expression

In her recent LinkedIn article, Tanya Finnie defines what is known as speaking culture, which refers to a safe space for people to talk and talk, where they can feel emboldened to point out both challenging areas and opportunities for new disruption. and innovations.

Additionally, in a recent academic article in Organization Science, researchers state: “Voice, or employees’ upward expression of challenging but constructive concerns or ideas about work-related issues, can play a critical role in improving productivity.” organizational effectiveness.

Many managers still have doubts about listening to the voice of employees

Despite its importance, evidence suggests that many managers often hesitate to solicit their employees’ voice. …Voice is a distinctive behavior that involves escalating opinions, ideas, or concerns from employees to their managers with the expectation that they will respond by making systemic changes to their teams.”

As we create a safe space for our people to speak and speak out, where they can feel encouraged to point out both challenging areas and opportunities for new disruption and innovation, our teams and organizations will thrive.

Create an expression environment

So how can leaders encourage their employees to speak up and share their ideas?

In a recent HBR article, the authors describe this problem well: “When employees share novel ideas and raise concerns or problems, organizations innovate and perform better. Employees are often the first to see problems on the front lines, so their input can really help management decision-making. However, managers do not always promote employees’ ideas. In fact, they may even actively ignore employees’ concerns and act in ways that discourage them from speaking up at all.”

Unfortunately, while the many benefits of an open-talk culture are clear, many managers remain hesitant to seek input from their people and are even less likely to truly listen when that input is provided. And while ignoring employee input can cause frustration and disengagement from some of your best people (even causing them to leave), actively discouraging employees from speaking up can have even more serious detrimental impacts on the team’s long-term effectiveness. and the company’s competitive strategy and advantage.

 

Inclusion and ‘culture of expression’

I have previously written about the importance of creating dynamic organizational cultures and systems that promote diversity, inclusion, and belonging. One way to leverage the organization’s diverse human capital is to encourage people to speak up.

As noted in a recent Medium article, “Inclusive leaders create a ‘culture of speech’ where members of their teams feel welcome and included, free to share their ideas and opinions, and confident that their ideas are heard and recognized.” “. Tanya Finnie further argues that “global leaders who supported diversity and inclusion were more likely to foster collaboration and saw that most of their team members felt free to express their views and opinions.

Inclusive leaders with different qualities

These leaders were found to have several distinct qualities including; asking questions, facilitating constructive arguments, giving actionable feedback, receiving advice and implementing feedback, sharing credit for team success, and empowering decision-making among team members.”

Conclusion

The “culture of expression” is an inherent characteristic of an inclusive organization, with a dynamic people-centered culture. While it may be difficult to create and maintain, it is worth the effort.

As leaders, we must foster a safe environment where employee contributions are valued. We cannot outsource our responsibility to be the architects of our team’s inclusive culture and dynamic environment of expression. We cannot outsource our responsibility to drive strategic innovation. As we help our people know that their contributions are truly needed, we can harness their passion and creativity.

The “culture of expression” is an inherent characteristic of an inclusive organization, with a dynamic people-centered culture. While it may be difficult to create and maintain, it is worth the effort. As leaders, we must foster a safe environment where employee contributions are valued. We cannot outsource our responsibility to be the architects of our team’s inclusive culture and dynamic environment of expression. We cannot outsource our responsibility to drive strategic innovation. As we help our people know that their contributions are truly needed, we can harness their passion and creativity.

 

 

The “Voice Bystander Effect”: Why Employees Often See Something But Say Nothing

 

The authors are Insiya Hussain who is an associate professor of management at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin and Subra Tangirala who is a professor of management and dean at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland.

Speaking honestly is more effective

When frontline employees speak candidly, organizations become more effective. Because these employees are often in direct contact with customers and production processes, they tend to find important problems and develop valuable ideas and opinions that can help correct problems on the horizon.

Therefore, when employees freely express their thoughts, organizations benefit by being able to quickly detect errors or mistakes, as well as innovate products and systems.

Be transparent when responding to comments to reinforce employees’ trust and their decision to speak out. Use employee feedback both in daily work and to improve policies and processes

 

 

The problem, however, is that employees often do not speak up or express their concerns in the workplace.

As a result, issues are not escalated in a timely manner to senior management leaders who can act on them. Often, workplace problems persist for a frustratingly long time, even when everyone on the front lines knows about them. This is evident in a variety of areas, from safety concerns with products or equipment to cases of sexual harassment.

 

Why don’t people talk about work issues that are obvious to everyone around us?

Our recent research indicates that a phenomenon we call the “voice bystander effect” can lead employees to remain silent at work about potential organizational problems and solutions.

The phenomenon describes the psychological tendency of employees to remain on the sidelines as passive spectators when faced with speaking opportunities. That is, employees pass the responsibility for talking about commonly known problems to their coworkers rather than taking the initiative to intervene personally.

We show that when an employee believes that she and her coworkers have access to the same information on work-related topics, that employee experiences diffusion of responsibility: a psychological tendency to believe that coworkers will take on the burden of speaking with manager.

After all, addressing issues with managers higher up in the organizational hierarchy is associated with costs such as time, energy, and interpersonal risk. For this reason, employees may think, “Why take the risk or effort of discussing a complicated topic when my colleagues could do the same?”

Therefore, the bystander-voice effect suggests a paradox: when many employees on a team know about a problem, each employee within that team is less likely to speak up about it.

Our research

We found evidence of this phenomenon in three studies.

The first study was conducted with 132 workers from 25 teams in the Indian branch of a Fortune 500 technology company. We tracked the workflow of each team to assess the likelihood that employees shared common information about work problems with their colleagues. of work.

We also asked managers to report the extent to which each employee spoke up within the team.

As predicted, the more employees shared overlapping information with their coworkers, the less likely they were to talk to the manager.

The second study was a laboratory experiment conducted with 163 American college students who were divided into two groups.

All participants were informed about the problem of lack of shuttle buses on the university campus, which caused transportation difficulties and caused students to be late to class. Students had the opportunity to personally raise the issue with university leaders and potentially meet with those leaders to further discuss the issue.

Participants in the first group were told that their peers on a student committee were aware of the bus problem. Meanwhile, participants in the second group were told that they were the only ones who knew about the topic. The results of the study showed that when students thought they were especially aware of the problem with shuttle buses, they were 2.5 times more likely to volunteer to raise the issue with university leaders.

In our third study, 440 working professionals in the US read a realistic work scenario about a software bug in a product they were working on as employees. Participants in one condition were told that they were the only ones who knew about the error, while participants in the other condition were told that other members of their team knew. Consistent with the other studies, we found that participants were less likely to report raising the issue with company management when their peers were also aware of the issue.

 

How can administrators prevent bystander behavior?

There are several steps managers can take to ensure that employees speak up even when information and issues are commonly shared within work groups.

First, managers should assure employees that their concerns are not redundant and should be communicated even if other team members have them and can raise them. After all, if everyone thinks someone else will raise an issue, it may never reach the attention of those higher up and have the ability to take action.

Instill a sense of responsibility

Relatedly, managers should try to instill a sense of personal responsibility in employees to speak constructively at work.

Managers should communicate to employees that problems and ideas are “owned” by all team members. Therefore, employees should not be too quick to assume that someone else will solve shared problems.

Finally, speaking up is often an act of bravery, and managers should reward it as such rather than punish those who challenge the status quo.

By being open to employees’ thoughts and ideas, no matter how different from their own, managers can make workers feel more comfortable being honest at work and less inclined to shift the responsibility of expressing their opinion to others. others.

 

When employees talk and managers don’t listen

The authors of this contribution are Gerdien de Vries (Leiden University), Karen A. Jehn (University of Melbourne) and Bart W. Terwel (Leiden University) who publish on the “strategy + business” portal which is a publication of pwc , with the title “When employees talk and managers don’t listen,”

Dangers lurk if suggestions are sought but not considered.

Title: When Employees Stop Talking and Start Fighting: The Detrimental Effects of Pseudovoice in Organizations

 

When faced with important decisions, managers can choose to govern autocratically (making unilateral decisions) or democratically (inviting employees to weigh in).

Managers are often encouraged to take a democratic approach (usually called participatory management) because research has shown that motivation, job performance, and morale increase when employees have the opportunity to contribute their concerns and ideas.

But this study finds that giving employees a voice has a consequence: the company has to listen

If employees conclude that a manager is simply trying to score points by paying them lip service (and has no intention of following their advice), they are likely to stop offering feedback and, worse yet, express their frustration by clashing with their colleagues. .

Researchers refer to the illusion of having participatory influence as “pseudo voice.” It comes into play whenever a manager ignores ideas left in suggestion boxes, concerns expressed in meetings, and complaints recorded in employee surveys.

And it’s common even in companies that say they are committed to giving employees the opportunity to contribute their ideas.

In this context, according to the authors of this article, some managers feel obliged to ask their employees’ opinions, even if they have no intention of complying with what they hear.

The researchers chose a healthcare company in the Netherlands to conduct what they said was the first empirical test of the effects of pseudovoice in a real company.

The surveys were completed by 137 employees, who answered questions on a seven-point scale about their opportunities to express opinions, the level of consideration their input received from management, the methods they used to contribute ideas, and how they viewed their relationships with their employees. fellow workers.

To compare perceptions on both sides of the management divide, the researchers also surveyed 14 supervisors, who answered the same questions and provided ratings of management’s attitude. Their responses largely matched those of the employees.

In fact, supervisors said they actually ignored their employees’ input a little more often than employees suspected

The fact that employees were ignored more often than they thought means that the study offers a conservative assessment of the prevalence of pseudovoice and the extent of its harmful effects.

The researchers conducted a hierarchical regression analysis of the ratings, controlling for the effects of education and organizational tenure (employees reported speaking up much more frequently when they were more educated or had worked longer at the company).

The researchers found that employees who suspected their managers were only feigning interest in their ideas became more reluctant to offer input.

Less frequency in opinions increased conflicts

A second regression analysis showed that, in turn, when employees expressed their opinions less frequently, their conflicts with their colleagues increased.

Conflicts took various forms, including giving orders to someone, refusing to fully participate in meetings, and starting arguments.

Researchers posit that disgruntled employees took out their frustrations on their coworkers because they feared losing their jobs or suffering other retaliation if they challenged their managers.

In contrast, employees who thought their boss was really paying attention talked more frequently and got along better with each other, improving the functioning of the organization as a whole.

With so much to gain, some managers may be tempted to cynically play the voice card, capitalizing on the initial trust that employees often display. “If a manager manages to offer employees an illusion of influence without anyone realizing it, the organization benefits from the positive effects of the opportunity to express themselves,” the authors write.

But these disingenuous efforts will likely backfire for the manager, the authors warn. “Your employees will likely soon realize that their opinions are not taken into account, and the negative feelings that accompany them will override the positive effects of the opportunity to express themselves,” they write. “As a result, employees are more likely to become suspicious of a pseudovoice in future situations” and end up convinced that their opinions are being ignored even when they are not.

To avoid this outcome, it’s not enough for managers to ask for feedback only when they intend to hear it: They must also provide feedback that includes tangible evidence that they followed up and did something.

Bottom line:

Giving employees the opportunity to express their opinions can be a positive force for change. But don’t post a suggestion box if you’re not willing to implement at least some of the suggestions.

 

The benefits of developing a culture of expression at work

This contribution corresponds to the “PeopleSafe” portal, which defines its activity by prioritizing putting people at the center of security.

Peoplesafe is an industry-leading, UK-based, technology-led employee safety company.

Through our range of safety devices, all workers, from those at highest risk to those at lowest risk, can benefit from 24/7 protection. With over 20 years of experience in the lone worker industry, we have used pioneering technology to create our end-to-end service that does not rely on third parties.

A culture of expression aims to foster a sense of morale and unity in a workplace where employees have the power to express their ideas, challenges and concerns. Create an environment where employees are encouraged to share ideas and report unethical behavior without fear of retaliation or termination.

Developing a culture of speaking up, also known as psychological safety, at work is one of the fundamental pillars of a healthy work environment. It is also an essential ingredient in creating an ethical business, as it helps generate a spirit of transparency, honesty and respect throughout the company.

What is a “culture of expression”?

A culture of speech is one in which a workplace inherently values and encourages open, honest, and advocacy communication. In addition to providing a safe, non-judgmental place for employees to share ideas, it allows them to report misconduct and raise concerns.

Fostering psychological safety involves leveraging an ethical brand identity that fosters, demonstrates and reinforces trust between employees and leadership

Staff must be able to express opinions and share concerns with confidence, even if this means reporting high-level ethical violations or speaking out against company leadership.

To do this, it is necessary to break down the barriers that prevent a culture of open speaking from thriving. A recent survey by the National Guardian Bureau found that fear of retaliation is the number one barrier preventing employees from speaking out. Almost 70% affirm that fear of retaliation has a “very strong” or “notable” impact.

This is followed by concern that business owners will do nothing

A culture of open speaking requires your company to do more than simply facilitate the act of speaking. Leadership needs to actively listen to what employees say, value their perspective, and take appropriate action.

Benefits of developing a culture of expression at work

Implementing a culture of expression at work benefits both employers and employees. That is how.

Early response and mitigation of unethical labor practices

There are many different activities that fall under the scope of unethical labor practices. These can vary greatly in severity, from the morally unacceptable to the strictly illegal. Examples include violence, theft, policy violations, lying to employees, and misuse of company time.

Unethical labor practices can be defined as any behavior committed at work that violates moral standards. Regardless of whether they are committed intentionally or not, they can have serious legal and financial repercussions for the person or company committing the act.

Unethical labor practices can also damage your company’s reputation, reduce business productivity, and create a toxic work environment.

A whistleblowing culture encourages employees to report any unethical practices they witness. Your employees should feel confident that their reports will be taken seriously and will not result in unfair negative consequences.

With their help, you can quickly address any potentially harmful behavior before it has a chance to escalate.

 

Promotes open communication and feedback

Employees value honest and constructive feedback; It helps them grow professionally and is vital for their well-being. But remember this: open communication and feedback should be a two-way street. When employees can offer you the same courtesy, it can have an equally big impact.

Give your employees the opportunity to freely share their ideas and concerns with you. Embrace the values of a healthy speaking culture, i.e. the ability to accept criticism, transparency and accountability, and use your feedback to drive business improvements.

 

There will continue to be cases where employees feel unable to communicate openly

Fostering a culture of communication can allow you to proactively address employee mental health issues and reach appropriate solutions more quickly.

For example, you can track employee absences and how productively they spend their time at work using attendance management software. The system should flag any patterns of unusual absences or lapses in productivity, alerting you to the possibility that an employee may need additional support or resources so you can make that initial contact with them.

By approaching employees in a compassionate and open way, you empower them to do the same. Not only will they feel more comfortable communicating their problems with you, but they will share them more honestly, speeding up the resolution process.

Recognize how threatening negative feedback can be when applied to a person rather than an attitude or practice, and provide employees with training, resources and models to take negative feedback as an opportunity for growth and learning, rather than as a threat

 

 

Give value to the contributions and contributions of employees

It is not enough to ask employees’ opinions. It is necessary to listen to it, value it and learn from it.

Acting on feedback directly and positively correlates with the well-being of your employees. However, only 18% of employees say their company uses the feedback they provide to solve problems.

Therefore, conduct regular surveys and, where appropriate, respond to feedback from your employees. Make changes that you can resonate with and that speak to your values. And, for every contribution made, be sure to express your gratitude.

Attract and retain high-performing employees

The absence of psychological safety at work can cause toxic behaviors to spread. This results in a negative work environment that harms the productivity, engagement, and happiness of your employees.

Gone are the days when workers grin and bear it. Many employees will now prioritize their health and well-being above their work. In particular, a significant number of Generation Z and Millennials will consider changing roles for this reason.

These trends are getting stronger every year. Therefore, attracting and retaining high-performing employees requires a healthy, empowering environment in which they can speak their minds and be heard, valued, and respected while doing so.

Promotes employee belonging and satisfaction

“Belonging” has a critical psychological impact on your employees. Feeling included, accepted, welcomed and connected is integral to your levels of job satisfaction and happiness. Unfortunately, however, it’s not always easy to create an environment where every employee feels welcome and valued.

In the workplace, historically marginalized and underrepresented groups tend to experience a lower sense of belonging than better-represented groups. Men, for example, are, on average, 41% more likely to express strong feelings of belonging compared to women and are more likely to share different opinions knowing that they will continue to be valued.

A culture of free speech fights against this. It allows anyone who experiences or witnesses discrimination in the workplace to speak out against it without fear. At the same time, it cultivates diversity and inclusion, which promotes a culture of belonging.

Encourages initiative and knowledge sharing

Actively sharing knowledge with others in the workplace creates a sense of community, support and collaboration. This doesn’t just happen within teams but across departments and entire hierarchies.

Sharing knowledge has many other benefits too: it drives professional development, streamlines workflows, and drives bottom line growth. Encouraging employees to initiate and participate in dynamic conversations is the essence of knowledge sharing.

Strengthens trust between employees and management

64% of employees say that trust between employees and management directly impacts their sense of belonging. 55% say it affects their mental health, and for 68%, low confidence reduces their performance levels.

Employers should make building employee confidence a top priority. Honesty and transparency are key, as is listening to and valuing the opinions of your workers.

A culture of communication embeds these values at the heart of your company, earning the loyalty, respect and trust of your employees.

Proactive problem and conflict resolution.

Chances are, at some point, an employee has thought of a brilliant way to solve a business problem. But due to one of the barriers described above, they didn’t feel comfortable sharing their idea and that led to the company missing out on a huge opportunity.

By removing these barriers and creating a culture of psychological safety at work, employees will feel much more comfortable expressing their opinions. By doing so, they will freely share innovative ideas without fear of being judged, ridiculed, or dismissed.

This is a simple way to increase workplace morale and employee engagement. And, should conflict arise, a culture of free speech promotes healthy discourse that can nip tension in the bud before it escalates.

Open communication is the key

Because workplace culture is a dynamic concept made up of many moving parts (behaviors, attitudes, goals, values, practices, etc.), it is useful to break it down. A culture of speaking is just one of the many attributes you must incorporate into your values if you want to create a positive and thriving work environment.

Most of the benefits of creating a culture of talking at work have one thing in common: they improve the satisfaction and well-being of your employees. This means that by encouraging open communication, you can improve engagement, productivity, and retention.

 

This information has been prepared by OUR EDITORIAL STAFF

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