Thursday, 23 July 2020 15:06

Supporting Employees to Speak Up and Be Heard

Supporting Employees to Speak Up and Be Heard

When I joined Anderson Anderson & Brown (AAB) as a client development advisor in 2015 I never would have thought that 5 years later I would be working in their whistleblowing department (SeeHearSpeakUp) providing our clients’ employees with the platform to raise concerns about unethical behaviour in their workplace. No two days are the same in the whistleblowing department and that’s one of the main things I love about my job!

Whistblowing is continuously evolving and a large part of my role is to ensure that we are aware of social movements that may impact the types of concerns being reported through our service. Recently, movements such as #meetoo and #timesup provided employees with the much-needed courage and determination to speak up about unethical behaviours they witnessed in their workplace.

As a team we are focussed on supporting one another to learn new skills and broaden our knowledge and understanding of whistleblowing. It’s important for us to ensure that when whistleblowers report their concerns it is done in a sensitive and compassionate manner with the whistleblowers feelings always at the forefront of our minds. Once the information is gathered we then produce comprehensive investigation reports for the client so that the necessary action can be taken.

AAB have supported and provided me with the necessary training and development to allow me to be the best I can be, so when we were informed that in line with the government guidelines we would now be working remotely I still felt confident that as a firm we could continue to provide the high standard of our services to our clients. However, I was also nervous about the impacts COVID-19 could have on our services.

Would we still have whistleblowers contacting us? How likely are staff to be aware of wrongdoing when home working is the default position for businesses? What issues could we potentially experience when whistleblowers contact us? Can we ensure our lines continue to operate with no loss in services? These were just some of the questions that I had as we moved to remote working.

Thankfully, within the first couple of days of lockdown we quickly realised that calls through our hotlines were not only going to increase, but that employees would be reporting a far wider range of unethical behaviours. Employees had become more aware than ever about the wrongdoing that was occurring in their work but were faced with the challenge of not knowing how to reach out to their line managers to discuss their concerns.

Since lockdown began one of the most crucial aspects of my role is to manage the routing of our hotlines so that we can ensure we continue to be operational 24/7 with no loss of services. Our clients need to know that their staff can reach us at any time and as a team we have successfully managed to deliver our services during the pandemic with no loss of service.

17 weeks later, homeworking remains the default position, but as lockdown restrictions continue to ease and we begin our plan for a phased return to the workplace, I am looking to the future and what other social changes could impact our whistleblowing services.  

COVID-19 has changed everything about our workplace and the way we do our jobs but throughout the pandemic AAB have continued to provide a supportive working environment where the opportunities and encouragement to learn and develop our skills are endless. 

By Louise Cheyne, SeeHearSpeakUp Assistant Manager