3 Ways Leaders Can Encourage Employees to Speak Up

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With corporate culture comes the occasional uncomfortable conversation. As a leader, it’s your job to keep your people safe and informed. But how can that happen if behind-the-scenes issues are taking place that you don’t know about? Encouraging your employees to speak up and use their voice no matter the situation may sound simple, but as a seasoned leader, you know that is no easy feat. 

Each employee and each situation is unique and should be treated as so. What is easy to one might be anxiety-ridden for the next. While you might assume you know how the usual outgoing and outspoken John Doe would react, not even Mr. Doe knows how he would respond until he's put in the situation. 

When workplace mistreatment or conflict strikes, are you prepared to help your team speak up? Here are three tips to get you on the right track:

1. Provide Resources

Employees need a place to safely and securely come forward when they are ready. Read that again. When THEY are ready. Timing is everything and there’s no telling when workplace mistreatment will strike.  Speaking out about a negative situation is hard enough, especially when you don’t know where to start. Sending an email or walking into an HR office to report a situation isn’t as easy as it sounds. Provide your employees with easy-to-use documentation resources (like Speakfully!) and proper training so that if the time comes, they know exactly where to turn and feel safe doing so.  

2. Lead by Example

Talking the talk won’t cut it. You need to walk the walk. Individuals at the top of the totem pole are not exempt from workplace mistreatment or other negative events. At the end of the day, people are just people. What’s different is that those in leadership positions typically have high visibility throughout their organization. If employees see their superiors speaking up, too, it levels the playing field and builds trust in the process.

3. Take Action

While “rewarding” employees for coming forward with a gift card or trip to the prize closet sounds enticing, it will not lead to the results you need. Instead, reward your employees by showing them that you truly care about them and the situation they’re facing by taking action and providing clear next steps.

We know that one of the top reasons employees don’t speak up about workplace harassment and mistreatment is because they fear what will happen next. Employees are often left in the dark.  Once a person has mustered up the courage to come forward, they deserve transparent follow-up. This means real-time updates on when the complaint was received, who is handling the case, what action steps are in place, and how this will be resolved. 

Curious to learn more about how a platform like Speakfully could benefit your organization? Click here.