A report on the UK's National Health Service and its treatment of employees who 'blow the whistle' on poor practice, unprofessional behaviour and fundamentally flawed decision making brings the subject of transparency and professionalism back in to the media spotlight.
Whilst it is rather easy for observers such as the general public and journalists to view whistleblowing as an absolutely essential part of an employee's personal and professional responsibilities, without being actively involved in the situation, it is impossible to truly understand the dilemma and emotional turmoil the potential whistleblower experiences. Saying that 'It's the right thing to do' from a distance is much easier than being the person and employee who thinks to themselves 'It's the right thing to do'.
Why Don't Employees Blow The Whistle?
There are many reasons why employees choose to remain silent, even when their head and heart push them to report a matter to a relevant party. These include, but aren't restricted to:-
- If I speak up and my colleague/manager finds out about it, my life at work will become a living hell.
- Someone else will say something, and then I'll back him or her up with what I know.
- I could lose my job, and I can't afford for that to happen.
- It's not my place to speak up. I don't get paid enough to do that.
Whatever the reason, it's usually an emotional decision relating to self-preservation rather than a logical decision. The fear of somehow getting 'hurt', either personally or professionally can be a powerful force in pushing a potential whistleblower to maintain their silence.
What's The Real Message Here?
Whistleblowing is usually done by a subordinate and relates directly to a senior colleague, often a direct line manager. 'Grassing' on a boss could be a career ending decision, and many individuals will wish to avoid this at all costs. Even if their action isn't career ending, it could become extremely awkward having to work alongside, or for them, in future.
Posted by Scott Watson on July 7, 2016