Whistleblowing is the term used when a worker calls attention to wrongdoing within an organisation. If a worker exposes any information or activity that is illegal, unethical or incorrect, they are a whistle-blower and should be protected by law, as stipulated in the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998. In this article, we explain your responsibilities as an employer when it comes to whistleblowing, and why you need a comprehensive whistleblowing policy.
What is whistleblowing?
The law translates the term “whistleblowing” to “making a disclosure in the public interest.” If a worker blows the whistle on something that is in the public interest, that concerns something they believe has shown past, present or future wrongdoing, they will be protected and should not be treated unfairly by their employer. Examples of wrongdoing include:
• Criminal activity, such as fraud
• Health & Safety risks, accidents or malpractice
• Risk or damage to the environment
• Miscarriages of justice
• Your company is breaking the law
• Someone is covering up wrongdoing
How to deal with whistleblowing in your organisation
First and foremost, it is good practice to create a company culture that emboldens workers to speak up about any wrongdoing, without fearing penalisation. Workers are usually the first people to witness any wrongdoing and should, therefore, be encouraged to communicate. You should demonstrate at all levels of your organisation that disclosures are welcome and put in place robust systems to ensure workers feel comfortable and confident to do so.
It is not a legal requirement to have an official whistleblowing policy, but it is certainly best practice, as it demonstrates to workers that you are committed to openness and transparency.
A comprehensive whistleblowing policy will help you to:
• Identify wrongdoing quickly and efficiently
• Enable you to respond and investigate promptly
• Give you better control of information to help you make decisions and control risk
• Create a company culture committed to openness and transparency
• React to wrongdoing by utilising internal systems, rather than requiring a worker to go to a third party
What should your whistleblowing policy cover?
All organisations are different and as such, there is no standard whistleblowing policy you should adopt. You may have a variety of different policies for individual business units, a standalone policy, or a policy built into your code of ethics. There is often confusion as to the type of wrongdoing that should be disclosed so you should clearly outline the type of disclosures that fall under whistleblowing and direct workers to your grievance policy for any other matters. Your whistleblowing policy should also outline in detail the steps a worker should take when making a disclosure for them to remain protected by law.
There are several elements your policy should cover including, and not restricted to:
• The type of disclosures that are classed as whistleblowing
• Your procedures for handling whistleblowing
• The correct procedure a worker should adopt to blow the whistle
• Clarification that contractual ‘gagging clauses’ do not prevent whistleblowing
• The feedback a whistle-blower is likely to receive
• The time frame for dealing with disclosures
• Signposts to information or support networks to those thinking of whistleblowing, such as Acas, Trade Unions, Public Concern at Work or the Government.
The importance of communication
You should communicate your commitment to whistleblowing, and your whistleblowing policy, regularly and through a variety of means. This could be via your company intranet, company newsletter or through team meetings or 1:1s. Keeping workers regularly informed through communication and training will reinforce the importance of openness in your company culture.
If a worker has made a disclosure, you should explain your procedures to deal with it and explain how you intend to keep them informed. Many whistle-blowers will expect to be kept in the loop and your policy should outline the information you intend to share with them following their disclosure. It is best practice for organisations to provide feedback on how their disclosure has been dealt with. Lack of communication can cause resentment or frustration from the whistle-blower and could result in them looking to a third party to take the disclosure further, a scenario you would probably wish to avoid.
It’s vital to be prepared
Whistleblowing should not be a source of fear in your business. By implementing a thorough policy, and instilling a culture of transparency, you will be able to deal with issues quickly and robustly before they turn into even bigger problems. For more information on your responsibilities as an employer, this guide from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills is particularly helpful.
For further advice on implementing a whistleblowing policy, or if you have a case of whistleblowing with which you require professional support, we’re here to help. Call us for an informal chat on 0330 555 1139 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whatever your business or sector, you need the right expertise in your business to be successful. You need talented marketers who know how best to spend your marketing budget to deliver a return on your investment. You need an HR team to recruit the best people for your business, drive engagement and deal with people management issues. You need a diligent accountant or even a whole accounting department to make sure you are managing your books effectively and making the most of your finances.
These skilled people all come at a price. You are competing with every other business who also want these talented individuals which could mean you find it difficult to find the right people. Alternatively, you may feel that there is a shortage of the right people to fill your requirements. Whether you can find the right people or not. The costs of recruiting a qualified, talented person, or team, are high, and the time required to manage them means taking you eye off other areas of the business, like working on how to grow it further.
Many small business owners are nervous about outsourcing. They worry about yet another cost to the business and the fear that their precious business information is in somebody else’s hands. There are so many advantages of outsourcing however and here are just a few to try to ease any worries that you may have.
1. A better return on investment
The costs of recruiting a qualified person or team are sky high. Before they even get to work you have to think about the costs of advertising your position or hiring an expensive recruitment agency to do the job for you, not to mention the hours you’ll spend pouring over CVs and conducting interviews. Then, once you have found the correct candidate you’ve got countless other costs to look forward to including salaries, benefits, insurance, payroll taxes, paid time off as well as work space, furniture, computers, software. The list is endless!
The financial savings of outsourcing are significant. Outsourcing allows you to balance your requirements to your business needs and ONLY pay for the actual work delivered, nothing else. Plus, it’s tax deductible.
2. Make the most of your time
The time it takes to manage your teams on a weekly basis can be put to much better use. No more weekly update meetings or valuable time lost from your diary spent managing office operations. That’s what your outsourced supplier will do. You can spend the time instead on activities that are vital to your business objectives like working on growth strategies or building relationships.
3. Benefit from a team of experts
Using your investment on outsourcing functions of your business gives you access to a team of experts. They specialise in what they do and have to continually develop their skills to compete, which means you can trust that the service you are going to receive will be top notch. An HR firm for example will be filled with experienced HR consultants or employment lawyers who continually update their skills and qualifications to retain their competitive advantage, expand their services and remain compliant. A successful marketing firm on the other hand is only as good as the results they generate for their clients. They will have a wide range of skills in house to help you grow your business through a variety of channels. Plus, they will be accountable for the return on investment they have committed to achieving for you.
4. Scale your service requirements in line with business growth
One of the biggest benefits of outsourcing is scalability. As your business grows you can simply add further functions. You can find the right supplier with the qualified team needed to deliver your requirements. You won’t need to worry about recruiting more staff or having to make redundancies should the business take a down turn. What’s more, they are on hand to help you think about your growth strategy, help you earn more money and drive your business forward.
5. Time and speed
By outsourcing you have the flexibility to choose a provider that best suits your business needs. You could choose a provider who has a different time zone. That way, the work you need doing will be done while your business is closed for the day, you can simply wake up to the work delivered to you the next morning.
Setting clear deadlines and deliverables for suppliers can also help you work faster and provide a better service. If suppliers are contracted to performing a task by a certain time you can be sure that it will get done, meaning your product can get to market quicker or your accounts will be submitted on time, for example.
Every business owner wants a more productive workforce and in these challenging times, it is vital that your team is working to it’s potential before you can even consider investing in further recruitment to grow your business. In order to maintain your position in the market, or overtake your competitors, a yearly increase in productivity is key. In most industries, productivity increases of between 10 and 25% are the order of the day. Can you honestly say that your team is delivering this year on year?
We could talk for hours on productivity factors as there are just so many things you should consider. As a starter for 10 here are our top 10 factors you should consider.
1. Great managers are worth their weight in gold
Managers play a vital role in delivering workforce productivity. They should be supported by HR to grow and develop to become great leaders. On the flip side, HR should endeavour to remove ineffective managers as they can be toxic to the morale and productivity of their teams. Managers must communicate goals and objectives clearly and hold employees to account. At the same time, coaching, mentoring and developing their teams is crucial to success.
2. Hire the right people
One of, if not THE most important factor you must consider is the people you hire. Work with your HR team to identify and employ high performers. People who will go the extra mile for both the business and to develop their own skill sets. Self-motivation is key and employees who are committed to personal development will be the key to driving your business forward. Even the best managers will struggle to motivate those who do not have personal drive.
3. Get your team bought in to the business strategy
Communicate the strategy of the business to your entire workforce and ensure that each team has defined and individual responsibilities in achieving this goal. Every employee should feel like a vital cog in the success of the business. The feeling of job satisfaction is often much more important to employees than financial reward. Share and celebrate successes and thank your workforce for the part they played. A simple thank you goes a very long way!
4. Control your control mechanisms
While it’s important for teams to be managed effectively, too much control can strangle decision making and employee development. It is a fine balance but one you must understand to create effective teams. Too little control can create waste and lack of focus. Too much can create blockages and hinder efficiency. Make sure you have the right balance.
5. Manage the working environment
There are so many parts of everyday office life that can have a real effect on the morale and productivity of the workforce. Get them wrong, especially if you have been informed of problems by employees, can quickly lead to a feeling of a lack of care and consideration. This in turn will have a knock on effect on morale and productivity. Take control of the simple things. Are there annoying lights flickering? Is it too hot or too cold? Are employees comfortable at their desks? Is it too loud or too quiet in the office? All these environmental factors play a part in daily productivity output.
6. The importance of goal and objective setting
Managers, teams and individuals should have goals and objectives that stretch them, but that can also be reasonably achieved with hard work. Employees should be coached to achieve them and praised for doing so. Goals should be measurable so progress can be easily communicated.
7. Prioritise objectives and tasks across the business
Throughout the business, tasks and objectives should be prioritised. This should filter down to teams and individuals so everyone is on the same page when it comes to the priorities they should make in their daily working lives. Many employees will spend hours on successfully completing a task. But if that task is of low priority to the business, then that time could be much better spent elsewhere.
8. Reward your employees
Monetary rewards have a big impact on performance and productivity. They should however, be tied to the achievement of goals and performance metrics. Monetary rewards on their own however are not effective at driving continual productivity growth. They should be used in conjunction with excitement factors and a team based company culture.
9. Encourage your teams to collaborate
Many processes and learnings can be shared between teams to improve efficiency. For example, if a team develops a solution to a problem it should be shared with others in the business that may also be suffering from the same challenges. Not sharing information and forcing each team to overcome the same obstacles by learning from their own mistakes is a sure fire way to lost productivity.
10. Ensure you resource effectively
Teams and individuals are often held back by resourcing issues. Perhaps they do not have an adequate budget to complete their tasks. Perhaps it is a lack of training or technology that is holding them back. Enable your employees to have the confidence to communicate these issues to their managers and empower your managers to provide solutions.
In a world where information is just a key stroke away attacks to reputation online can be devastating for both individuals and businesses. Within larger organisations there are whole teams which work to protect online reputation and brand, however what about SME’s and not-for-profits who don’t have the resources available to monitor and protect their image? Fear not CrosseHR has come up with some handy tips to protect your reputation online;
1. It starts with you
The information you put online allows people to make presumptions about who you are personally and what your company represents. Often people can be the makers of their own grief by posting things online which may even have been intended to be private, but is actually publicly available and gives the wrong message. The one rule to live by is that everything you do online; the messages you send, the pictures you post and the things you comment on can be made public. There are countless examples where online messages are sent and then exposed online by it’s recipient. HR departments regularly have to deal with Facebook posts by employees which don’t comply with company ethos, not to mention the flurry of inappropriate images which have become the norm amongst young people and daters. So how do you avoid this mess? It’s simple; with everything you do question what would my employer think of this? Or if you are an employer, what would my mother think of this? By asking yourself these questions it will make you consider the content of posts before you post them and prevent you from getting an ominous email from HR on a Friday afternoon.
2. Set all personal social media profiles to private
Setting profiles to private will prevent information being indexed by search engines. Indexing is when Google or another search engine takes information you have put online or information another person has put out about you and makes that available to anyone who searches for you or your company. The last thing you want when someone is Googling you are webpages and Facebook posts which show you or your company in a bad light. Follow these steps to make your personal accounts private;
a) Go to the top right hand corner and click the padlock sign.
b) Click on the “see more settings” link.
c) You will be brought to this page.
d) At the bottom it asks whether you want search engines to link to your profile, make sure this option shows up as “no”.
e) Click on ‘Limit Past Posts’, this will limit the audience of your previous posts.
f) Make sure that only friends can see your future posts.
a) Click on your profile picture
b) Click on settings.
c) Click security and privacy.
d) This page will appear, click ‘Do not allow anyone to tag me in photos’, this will prevent anyone tagging you into an image that you wouldn’t want to be associated with.
e) Click ‘Protect my Tweets’, select this option if you don’t want your tweets to be publicly visible to anyone, by doing this you limit those who can see your tweets to just people you have approved.
f) Ensure all other options are not ticked.
3. The right to be forgotten
A relatively new feature to Google is the ability to be forgotten by asking Google to review and delete web pages from it’s results. The feature comes after a ruling in the European Court of Human Rights on data protection and currently users can ask Google not to display web pages containing their name where the page in question is irrelevant, no longer relevant, excessive or inadequate. If when Googling yourself, which we all at some point do, you find something that’s unfair or just plain wrong you can ask Google to omit it from their results by filling in a simple online form.
Click here to access the online form
4. Content, content, content
Google and other search engines display a certain number of results per page, therefore logic dictates that the more quality content you put out the more of that space will be occupied by you. By consistently creating and publishing online content you can knock detrimental results down to later pages which are seldom read. The ultimate goal is to have so much unique quality content that any attack on your reputation wouldn’t get close to page one of the results.
5. Contest your reputation online
If you do come across something contact the site the content is being hosted on, as well as doing a Google request (above). The last thing a site administrator wants is libellous content on their site and often a quick email will result in it’s swift removal. If the site is operated by the person creating the content then it is also a good idea to contact them asking them to remove it. If all above attempts fail it is a good idea to contact a solicitor who will be able to advise you on further action.
CrosseHR can advise on a range of HR issues including dismissals, tribunals and employment law. If you are experiencing issues with an employee’s online behaviour or want to develop your policies on responsible media use then CrosseHR can help! Call 0330 555 1139 or email email@example.com, you can also view a full list of our services here.
I’m rather taken with this new notion of Holacracy first coined by Brian J Robertson, so in my earlier post I just provided an overview. After a bit more research I am able to provide you with a more in depth view of how it works which is described below.
Further information can be got from www.holacracy.org
To say there’s no hierarchy in a holacracy is inaccurate. There is, but it’s much less rigid than a traditional structure. Its constitution is made up of semi-autonomous circles, with each circle having its own goals and responsibilities. Every circle has a ‘lead link’ that designates people certain roles. Each circle exists within the context of a higher-level circle, but no circle is fully autonomous.
With holacracy, governance meetings structure how the work gets done, making it clear who is responsible for what and with how much authority. Each employee has complete control over the roles they’ve been assigned or elected to. However, they are still accountable, so if there’s a problem or they have an issue with a colleague, it’s their responsibility to sort it out.
Hiring and firing
In a typical top-down management structure, the power to hire and fire is usually in the hands of managers. With holacracy, it’s less personal, making it more about who is the best fit for each role. But because there are no managers, who actually does the hiring and firing you might ask?
As with any business, employees can be removed, but the process needs to be decided upon by governance, a committee sometimes referred to as an anchor circle. A circle’s lead link can remove someone from a role and find a better fit from the talent pool available if necessary. An employee may also be removed if they can’t find enough roles to do within the company.
Is holacracy right for you?
A company without managers might sound like a recipe for chaos, but supporters of holacracy say it actually has the opposite effect because a workplace free from office politics results in fewer tensions and empowers employees. Ultimately, it gives everyone a voice, which fuels more ideas and opportunities, and is extremely flexible, which is paramount for success in a modern workforce.
However, it isn’t for everyone, and shouldn’t be undertaken without due consideration. Without any one person truly in charge, it’s not always clear where the buck stops when it comes to issues such as company under performance and finance. Also, because staff aren’t promoted or given a clear career path, they may be tempted by more lucrative offers elsewhere. It might also be difficult for current managers to relinquish power.