Whistle-blowing, workplace courage and doing nothing
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As I sit at my computer on yet another scorching day in the UK (how I will live to regret those words in the months to come), I’m reflecting how easy it would be to watch the highlights of the cricket, drink cold drinks and not write this blog.  A bit like last week in other words!

These must be similar feelings to those many employees who go to work every day and know things can be done better or suspect or know that wrongdoing is going on.  What is to stop those employees not speaking up – something else is going on, it’s too easy to keep doing what they’ve always done, it’s too hard to get people to change, it’s not their job, they’ve too much to lose – the excuses are many and varied. 

Yet the cost of doing nothing is enormous.  Global employee fraud is calculated to cost $3 trillion alone with international benchmarks being 5% of annual turnover for the average company.  Employee disengagement is calculated (according to Gallup) at £350 billion in the US – at least $2,246 per employee – and studies have shown that disengaged employees lead to disengaged customers so the true cost is incalculable.

So what can we do about it? 

It strikes me that we have a number of options;

1) Do nothing.  The easy option – it always happens to another company and not yours.  But how do you know?

2) Create more policies and procedures – tell people to become more engaged and to stop being ‘naughty’.  This is the ‘head’ approach but experience has shown us time after time that the biggest frauds are often committed in organizations with the most developed governance structures.

3) Involve employees – show and engage them to be involved and that being part of an organisation brings both responsibilities and intrinsic value.  This is the ‘heart’ approach and is the toughest of the three options, but ultimately the only guarantee of success.

Workplace courage and whistleblowing are the same side of the employee engagement coin.  Which side do you want to come up when you got out to make the toss – employees that get involved or employees that don’t?