I have been thinking a lot lately about the concept of making employees feel safe. It’s new angle on the more traditional concept of trust. But it seems to go deeper. An employee who feels trusted by the organization (to do his job, to make decisions) may not necessarily feel safe in the organization.
An employee who feels safe can focus on her job instead of looking out for threats. She will be loyal, do her best, go the extra mile, protect the organization, and encourage others to join it. The last thing on her mind will be to engage in wrongdoing.
There are hundreds of ways to make employees feel safe and here’s an easy one for ethics & compliance professionals: meet with every new employee in person soon after they join the organization. Ask about them, where they came from, and what their new role is about. Tell them who you are, what you do, and that your main responsibility is to help them navigate ethical dilemmas and resolve compliance issues. Tell them that you hope they will never be in a tough spot but if they find themselves in one, you will be there to help.
And then let your example inspire other leaders in your organization.
Imagine a workplace where we all feel safe.