There are many reasons why incidents, mistakes or wrongdoings in the workplace go unreported. This is not ideal for employees and employers alike. When employees report incidents, managers can remedy the situation and improve safety standards. If incidents go unreported, this does not happen and future accidents could occur.
Why Employees Leave Incidents Unreported
The fear of being punished or embarrassed are common reasons for this. Sometimes employees have something to gain by not reporting incidents. An employee might benefit from not reporting colleagues leaving early so that they may also join in doing so.
Another fairly common reason is that employees simply do not know how to report incidents. Some companies have long, complicated processes, which leads to employees simply not being motivated to use them.
A less commonly spoken about but quite important reason is that employees underestimate how often these incidents take place. They often regard them as one-off events when they actually might happen far more often. Reporting these could actually be of great value in avoiding extra costs or write-downs.
The Importance of Reporting
If incidents and near-misses in the workplace go unreported, they can lead to bigger, more serious issues further down the line. For example, faulty equipment and lack of safety gear can pose a physical threat to employee safety.
On the other hand, misbehaviours and small misdemeanours often go unreported because people don’t think that they are a big deal. However, not reporting the small things means that these behaviours or incidents are not corrected. This can lead to future transgressions and more serious problems in the future.
Unsafe acts can include improper behaviour or unethical practices. Performing work duties under the influence of alcohol or drugs can be incredibly dangerous. Sexual harassment or bullying of any kind is also unethical and can vary in impact. Reporting of these malpractices allows employers to remedy the situations efficiently and therefore avoid larger scale incidents - like the Talvivaara Mine Incident.
A proper whistleblowing process is key here as it most obviously benefits the employees but protects the company as well. It is also valuable to external stakeholders as it shows integrity on the part of the company. And protecting customers from any malicious intent creates a brand that customers can trust.
No News Is Bad News
Around staff, managers should adopt the mantra: "No news is bad news". Explaining the benefits of involving everyone in reporting workplace incident can help encourage employees to do so. Rewarding reporting and highlighting open culture with no blame game will only strengthen this.
Lastly, employers should ensure that employees understand the reporting process as a whole. What types of incidents they should report, when and where. Last but not least, offering an incident reporting tool that is intuitive to use will lower the threshold of reporting.
Reporting any kind of incidents that endanger or threaten the work environment is important. Managers should lead by making sure that all employees feel safe and empowered to report anything they experience. This can be done by educating the staff and implementing necessary tools such as an incident reporting tool and a whistleblowing channel which allows the anonymous reporting of more sensitive cases.
By doing so, organisations can increase the number of reports from the field, which managers in turn can react and take actions on, to prevent similar events from happening as much as possible in the future.
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