15 December 2023

63% Of Your Employees Might be Afraid to Speak Up About Bad Behavior at Work

By Ronald Smith

Did you know that a whopping 63% of the people you work with may be feeling too scared to report any bad behavior they witness? It’s true! And that’s not good news for anyone.

Imagine this: you’re working hard every day, trying to do your best. But suddenly, you witness something not quite right. It could be your coworker mistreating someone or maybe even breaking the rules. What would you do?

Well, here’s the thing. Many people, just like you, are hesitant to speak up when they see something wrong going on. They might worry about the consequences, like being treated poorly themselves or even losing their job. It’s a difficult situation to be in – wanting to do the right thing but feeling too scared to do it.

But why is this so important? Why should we care if people don’t report bad behavior at work? Well, for starters, it creates an unhealthy work environment. When people don’t feel comfortable speaking up, problems can go unnoticed and unresolved. This can lead to a toxic culture where bad behavior is tolerated, and good people are driven away.

So, what can we do about it? Well, we need to create a safe space where everyone feels empowered to speak up. It starts with building trust and fostering open communication. If you see something wrong, don’t be afraid to let someone know, whether it’s a supervisor, a manager, or a trusted colleague. You have a voice, and it deserves to be heard.

Remember, when we all work together to address bad behavior, we can create a workplace that is respectful and supportive. It’s up to each and every one of us to make a difference. Let’s stand up against bad behavior and create a workplace we can all be proud of!

63% of Your Employees Might be Afraid to Speak Up About Bad Behavior at Work

Are you afraid to speak up if you see something wrong with your co-workers? A new study found that many employees don’t report bad behavior by their co-workers, even if it could get them fired or lead to legal trouble for the company. Let me tell you what you should know, and how you can find out what’s really happening in your workplace.

The 2018 Workplace Experience Study by Warble asked employees about eight different types of common bad behavior that can happen at work:

  1. Having a bad attitude
  2. Discrimination or targeting someone
  3. Committing fraud
  4. Not being able to do the job properly
  5. Being a bad manager
  6. Sexually harassing someone
  7. Stealing from the company
  8. Engaging in unethical behavior

I’ve seen it happen: almost two-thirds of the people I know say they’ve witnessed some pretty bad behavior at work. You know, the kind that disrupts everything – culture, productivity, the whole business. But here’s the crazy thing – they didn’t report it to management. Can you believe that?

So, why don’t employees speak up when they see bad behavior?

  • About 46% of them don’t think anything will be done about it. I mean, what’s the point, right?
  • And then there’s 39% of people who are just worried about being called names. They don’t want to be seen as overly emotional, weak, or petty. I get it, it’s not easy.
  • Oh, and 38% of them keep their mouths shut because the person causing all the trouble is their manager. Ouch, that’s a tough spot to be in.
  • Another 38% are just plain scared of retaliation. I don’t blame them – nobody wants to be on the receiving end of that.
  • And get this – 32% of people don’t trust HR. Yeah, they think reporting bad behavior won’t make a difference. That’s a big problem.
  • Then there’s the 26% who are afraid they might lose their job if they say something. Man, that’s a tough choice to make.
  • And lastly, there’s the 20% who find it hard to even describe the bad behavior. I guess it’s tough when you can’t put it into words.

But what’s the impact of letting bad behavior slide at work?

In general, employees agree that there are three specific behaviors that have a big, negative impact on the workplace. These behaviors include poor management skills, bad attitudes, and incompetence. It’s clear that these behaviors can have serious consequences for the success of the business.

Furthermore, a majority of employees, specifically 69%, believe that sexual harassment has a negative effect on the business. Surprisingly, only 26% of employees are willing to report it. Similarly, 61% of employees think that discrimination negatively affects the business, yet only 39% are likely to report it.

How to prevent inappropriate behavior in the workplace

One of the reasons why employees may fail to report negative behavior is because it can be difficult to put into words. According to a staggering 78% of participants, the most common disruptive behaviors at work are carried out in subtle or passive-aggressive ways. This means there is often no concrete evidence, only one employee’s account against another’s.

If you solely rely on your managers or executives for insights into what’s happening in your business, you’re only getting part of the story. A study conducted by Warble discovered that companies that heavily rely on manager perspectives are more likely to be unaware of problems, like poor management, that affect their employees.

So, how can you create an environment that discourages bad behavior and encourages employees to be honest when it does occur?

  • Understanding what is considered ethical behavior is important, so I will clearly explain my expectations to my employees. I can use different methods like employee handbooks, lunch-and-learn sessions, role-playing, online video trainings, or other ways to make sure everyone knows what I expect in the workplace.
  • I want my employees to feel empowered and responsible, so I will let them know that if they witness any misconduct in the workplace, it is their duty to report it. I will also establish trust by ensuring that those who come forward will be protected from any retaliation.
  • Leading by example is crucial. It’s not just about achieving sales quotas or meeting deadlines; I will prioritize creating a work environment that promotes ethical behavior, respect, and inclusiveness. I will ensure that I and my managers set the standard for these values.
  • I want to make sure that lower-level employees feel valued and understood. That’s why I believe it’s important to show them that their input and opinions are just as important as those of managers. Instead of the traditional top-down employee reviews, I suggest implementing 360-degree reviews. This means that everyone’s perspective, including anonymous input from colleagues, will be taken into consideration during the review process.
  • I also believe in providing a safe and anonymous channel for employees to report any issues or concerns. It’s essential to create an environment where people feel comfortable speaking up, especially when it comes to reporting bad behavior. In fact, a survey conducted by Warble revealed that nearly 75% of employees would be more likely to report if they could do so anonymously. This anonymity can give individuals who fear retaliation or job loss the confidence to voice their concerns.