Why Employees Don’t Speak Up

There is a good post over at the Harvard Business Review blog about some research conducted on why employees don’t speak up in the workplace.  This research doesn’t focus only on whistle-blowing or fraud scenarios but also on innovative ideas, concerns over marketing strategies, or witholding information that could help shape strategy for the organization.  Potential retribution, lack of personal gain from speaking up, or viewing the effort as futile were all cited as reasons for what the authors call “organizational silence.”

If your employees are unwilling to speak up on business ideas, what are the chances they will speak up when faced with a higher stakes issue such as fraud, policy violations, or harassment issues?  Our experience shows us that it is rarely sufficient to simply post a hotline number on a wall or on a business card and expect that employees will automatically call when they see an issue of theft, fraud, or harassment.  The cited research also suggests that simply having an “open door” policy or a suggestion box is not enough to encourage employees’ input.  An organization and its management must actively cultivate and seek out employee input.

Read the blog post here and let us know if we can help your organization improve its communication in both directions.

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