We all share the responsibility of creating a workplace that is safe and respectful. This includes our duty to report incidents at the workplace. But do we report when we see something at work? Or do we act as if we have not heard or seen anything? Consider these examples. I saw my colleague drinking at work, but I did not want them to get into trouble or lose their job so I did not say anything. Or I saw a colleague harassing another coworker and I look the other way because I do not want to get involved.

Misconduct in the workplace can range from stealing office supplies to violence and harassment. Reporting is the right thing to do. But speaking up can put you in an awkward position. You may fear retaliation or lack of evidence. At the same time, you don’t want to cover up a possible violation of law or company policy. Identify and weigh your reporting options and then take action.
So why should we report?
Reporting these incidents and hazards will correct them before they develop into more serious ones. Reporting even a minor near miss should avoid a big safety incident.
Organizations have resources to provide support to an employee suffering from addiction issues. And corrective actions are available to make sure the workplace is safe for other coworkers.
How to report?
Check your organizations’ policies/procedures to know how to report such incidences. In most organizations, unsafe work conditions are reported through incident reports. You can also check with your manager or HR if you are unsure how to report. Provide specific details in your report. Attach any supporting documentation, such as emails. Document everything in case you face questions during an investigation. If coworkers share your concerns, you may wish to submit a joint memo, email, or complaint form. Be fair, factual, and objective when reporting unethical behavior.
Sometimes employees ask HR if anonymous reports would be safer. Or if HR can maintain the anonymity of the person who reported. Some organizations might have an anonymous tip line for employee concerns. Your complaint may not seem credible if it is anonymous. Give examples of unethical behavior, including dates, times, and locations of occurrence.
Organization’s responsibility
All reports should be taken seriously and investigated. It is important to ensure, there will be no retaliation. The organization will investigate all reports of violence and/or harassment. They will communicate the results to the complainant and the accuser as soon as possible. Following the investigation, the organization will determine the appropriate corrective action. The investigation process will be confidential. The organization will share information only with persons concerned.
If you need help with your policies and processes, please contact us for a free consultation.