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Why Being a Whistle-blowing Employee Is a Good Thing


Many employees are discouraged to voice their concerns in the workplace, especially those that are not in managerial or upper-level positions. However, we’ll take a look at how speaking up can actually make you a valuable asset to your employer.

employees afraid to speak up

(Photo Credit: Steven Depolo/Flickr)

If you think that keeping your mouth shut about issues at work is the best way to keep your job, then you’re definitely not alone in your decision to remain silent. A study by management researchers Kathleen Ryan and Daniel Oestreich “showed that 70 percent of 260 people from a variety of industries and job types hesitated to speak up about problems at work or suggest possible improvements to their firm because they feared repercussions,” according to Missing Voices: Why Employees Are Afraid to Speak Up at Work. However, withholding valuable information and feedback can actually hurt your employer more than you think, such as:

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  • Important problems go undetected.
  • Good ideas are never surfaced.
  • Relationships between managers and employees deteriorate.
  • Motivation declines because employees view their work as no longer worth their full psychological commitment.”

(Source: Discovery Surveys/Website)

In her TEDTalk presentation, Margaret Heffernan, author and serial entrepreneur, encourages the idea of “daring to disagree,” and explains how “constructive conflict” is a form of thinking between two or more people that promotes progress. Heffernan hits the nail on the head in her speech when she says, “So how do organizations think? Well, for the most part, they don’t. And that isn’t because they don’t want to, it’s really because they can’t. And they can’t because the people inside of them are too afraid of conflict.” In other words, because corporations fail to encourage their employees to openly and confidently “think together,” they also “fail to get the best out of” their employees.

Being a whistle-blowing employee shows that you care about the success of your employer, “[b]ecause you simply won’t commit that kind of energy and time if you don’t really care,” Heffernan reminds us. If you find that you’re faced with the dilemma of speaking up about an issue at work, but are too afraid to voice it to your boss, then another option would be to speak with HR about the problem so that it doesn’t escalate. You are a pivotal part of the organization you work for, so don’t underestimate the voice you have as an employee.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you had a negative or positive experience voicing your opinion at work? Share your story with our community on Twitter or in the comments section below.

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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