Ensuring Employee Reporting in the New COVID-19 Pandemic Era
If there ever was a time that companies need to promote and encourage employee reporting, the time is now. By employee reporting, I do not mean to single out hotline reporting – certainly that is one of many avenues to report concerns.
In this era of fear and worry, companies need to recognize that their respective workforces are suffering from trauma (possible loss of family and/or friends), economic pressure, and overall concerns for workplace safety and health. Companies have to recognize and express concern from leadership, acknowledge the trauma that we all have experienced, and the need to reassure employees of their commitment to resume operations at a pace designed to ensure overall safety and health.
Company leaders have to reassure employees and then encourage reporting of concerns and compassion for the pandemic and economic harm we all have suffered.
At bottom, companies have to restore trust and integrity as their cornerstone. As part of this communications effort, leaders have to demonstrate a commitment by embracing and implementing a safe and healthy work environment that seeks to address employee anxieties and faith. If employees perceive a faint effort in this area, they will not trust the company at its most basic element – the ability to ensure a safe and healthy work environment.
Employee reporting, however, has to occur at every level – employee reporting to supervisors, hotlines, and HR and Compliance walk-in reports. As I have explained many times before – mid-level managers have to be trained on how to respond to employee concerns. Mid-level managers are the key to success in reassuring employees of the company’s commitment to health and safety. If the mid-level managers fail to communicate in this important area, company culture will suffer. To make this work, managers should encourage employees to report their concerns.
When a manager receives an employee report, the manager should treat the concern with respect, respond in a supportive fashion, address the concern in a prompt manner, and document the concern and the response. If necessary, the manager should consult with his/her supervisor or HR and/or Compliance staff as needed.
With respect to hotline or anonymous reports, health and safety concerns should be addressed promptly to protect against any harm to an employee. It is important to prioritize these concerns as they come in and address them in a responsive and reassuring manner.
The new COVID-19 pandemic paradigm requires even greater attention to two-way communications – important leadership and management directions and reassurance and employee reporting and expression of concerns. We live in a new world in which health and safety of everyone is our top priority. A company that fails to guarantee health and safety of its workforce is destined to fail in the marketplace.
A company’s commitment to trust and integrity is under a new and challenge – the need to reassure employees of a safe and healthy workplace. Nothing else will matter if employees are asked to perform in a high-risk environment where proactive protections against OCVID-19 are ignored.
In this situation, Compliance has to step up and communicate the company’s message of reassurance. Further, Compliance has to demonstrate its real and substantial commitment to this new ethic by responding quickly and effectively to employee concerns.