Speaking up is not easy. If you want your people to speak up about misconduct, you need to build trust.
How? Keep it simple & positive!
If you want to detect misconduct in your organisation as early as possible, people should feel encouraged to speak up. Don’t overcomplicate things or make it too legal. Be transparent. People need to know when to speak up, how to speak up and what happens next.
That’s why communication is a key element of success when organisations decide to set up a speak up procedure.
SpeakUp is a misconduct reporting platform, designed to facilitate a real dialogue between employees and trusted company professionals.
We help organisations to communicate about SpeakUp effectively by sharing our experience and the best practices we have developed over the years.
One thing is for sure: every organisation is different and you need to think about what will work for your people.
Before we start
- Acknowledge that speaking up is not easy.. Especially in Europe, with its cultural and historical background, there are many countries where speaking up is still considered ‘not done’.
- Nobody will speak up if they don’t know that they can.. From posters to video’s to mirror-test-stickers which can actually be put on bathroom mirrors. Everything is possible, but it has to work for the people in your organization. Think about your communication strategy. Why not involve a communication specialist in your project team?
The basics in effective SpeakUp programs
- Let people know why you want them to speak up: because you care about your people and need their help to do the right thing!
- Decide who your audience Ask yourself: are you only catering to your employees, or do you also want to reach suppliers and other third parties? Do your employees work in an office or on site? Does everybody have internet or phone access? What language do they speak?
- Communicate clearly what should be reported. It’s about breaches of your code of conduct, so try giving specific examples of situations that should be reported.
- Now what? People want to know when they can expect a reply, who receives their message and how the follow-up procedure works. Let them know what to expect (and don’t make them wait for your reply longer than a week). Be transparent and show that any report made will be handled seriously by a dedicated team.
- SpeakUp is a last resort tool to report serious cases if people don’t feel comfortable to speak up otherwise. So, inform people about other options to report as well! Talk to your manager, the HR department or compliance team etc. Communicate all reporting channels clearly with a flowchart or other visual.
- Provide comfort. Let people know that it is safe to report a concern. They can even report anonymously with SpeakUp. Don’t make it too legal and don’t overcomplicate things. This will scare away reporters with the possibility of them not reporting at all.
- Okay, let’s not forget about legal.. Include important information in your SpeakUp policy, e.g. about privacy rights of the reporter– and don’t forget the rights of the accused! Or that reports cannot be investigated if made in bad faith. But keep in mind: most people don’t speak ‘law’. If people fear for disciplinary measures or retaliation, they will not report at all.
- Do you want to be a “whistleblower”? Probably not. Avoid the term “whistleblowing” altogether in you communication. Alternatives are: misconduct reporting, raising concerns, integrity reporting and of course (our personal favorite) speaking up!
- Building trust doesn’t happen overnight. Employees and suppliers come and go. Think about a continuous awareness plan.
- People speak up if something is wrong, so you also need to restore that breach of trust!