Many people still witness workplace wrongdoing yet stay stubbornly silent, even 50 years after the term “bystander effect” was coined. This has serious ramifications for organizations and society.
In motivating employees to speak up, organizations still rely on strategies and tools which are ineffective and counterproductive e.g. codes of conduct, training, and audits. This approach has simply failed. Only an estimated 1.4% of employees blow the whistle. The question is why – is this about the individual or the organization, the lack of moral intent or moral purpose?
In this session, based on 30 years of operating within and advising organizations that struggle to define and implement purpose, I will give an evidence-based account of my social norm research – the first of its type in an organizational context – and show how companies can use purpose to encourage employees to speak up.
I will address (i) why employees still fail to speak up; (ii) What mistakes companies predictably make, starting with purpose; (iii) which factors promote and inhibit speaking up; (iv) How emotion can be used to stimulate an organisational and societal response (v) What role different types of social norms can play. (vi) What types of interventions will be used by organisations, as part of a purpose-built culture.
Getting this right, matters in business. Silence perpetuates white-collar crime. Scandals have slashed market valuations and ravaged reputations. It also affects mental and financial health. One study showed that 82% of whistle blowers suffered harassment, 60% lost their jobs, 17% lost homes, and 10% attempted suicide.
How can organizations use purpose to motivate employees to speak up – and indeed, should they? How might they respond effectively? What type of culture-based solutions might reframe current strategies and create more societal good? Based on decades of behavioral science research, I use a blended solution rooted in behavioural science, and will discuss the integrated REFRAME model which offers seven strategies to nudge people to speak up within a purpose-built culture.
This solution supplements traditional compliance strategies, which appeal to logic, with communication strategies, which appeal to emotion. It emphasizes actions related to culture, critical thinking, courage, and conscience. Leaders can apply the model sequentially or cherry-pick tools and triggers, according to culture, strategy, size, and systems. The audience will hear rich and inspiring stories to bring this topic to life and reflect its significant societal impact. They will be engaged in this process through interactive polls and Q&A.
An overview of the organisational and societal consequences of passive by standing – evidenced across a spectrum of wrongdoing.
2. An evidence-based understanding of why employees don’t speak up and how the impact on culture – based on decades of research and my own experiment across c1000 UK employees.
3. A practical science-based framework with (a) tools for managers to encourage speaking up as part of a purposeful culture; (b) a parallel set of tools to respond appropriately to employees who choose to whistle blow.
4. Stimulate audience motivation to lead from the top though culture and purpose.