We all know the workforce continues to undergo radical changes. Between distributed, disparate employees and the influx of the largest generation to date (millennials), the average work environment looks dramatically different than those even a decade ago. All of this matters because it changes the way companies like yours need to approach and handle ethics and compliance.
In many larger companies, employees are dispersed across the world. And they conduct their work from a variety of locations: local offices, home offices, coffee shops, and airport lounges, to name a few. The global nature of business and entry of millennials into the workforce has also introduced even more diversity.
Beyond ethnic and racial diversity, the new generation of workers expects other changes from their employers. Because they grew up digital, they expect to access and use digital tools in all areas of their lives. To them, it’s second nature to jump on social media—even at work.
But millennials have less life and work experience to draw upon when it comes to handling challenging situations—whether offline or online. In fact, research by The Ethics & Compliance Initiative (ECI) found that younger workers often feel more pressure to compromise standards. Combine this with the fact that they are more likely to observe misconduct and they—and your organization—are at higher risk of ethics violations.
Tap into Unique Millennial Traits
According to ECI, nearly half of millennials reported seeing workplace misconduct. This is concerning, when you consider the compulsion they feel to turn a blind eye. Because improper behavior can happen anywhere—and because the social media landscape evolves so quickly—a social media policy is not the way to address this issue.
The most realistic approach is to ensure all employees are aware of your workplace ethics policies and expectations, and are engaged in driving ethics. The good news is that your organization can tap into a millennial trait to make this an effective approach.
Unlike many earlier generations, millennials believe in and value transparency and integrity. Plus, compared to their older counterparts, they are more aware of and sensitive to discrimination in the workplace. In fact, even though they sometimes feel pressured to violate standards, they are invested in their work and ready to commit to an employer whose values they can embrace. In other words, they are driven to help fix problems rather than leave their company of choice.
Your organization can capitalize on these millennial hallmarks to advance your ethics and compliance agenda.
Let Your Employees Be Heard
In the minds of millennials, technology is essential and integrated into their work and life. So why not harness that for good? You can take advantage of their preference for texting (aka SMS) to modernize the way employees submit hotline reports. Specifically, you can introduce SMS as an intake channel for reporting compliance issues, setting it up so that employees like millennials and your dispersed workers can text in a report anonymously.
Anonymous texting allows employees to engage through their preferred method of communication and alleviates some of the pressure of reporting misconduct. Plus, you remove barriers to reporting critical incidents—simply by texting instead of picking up the phone. It may seem like a small detail, but for millennials who by far prefer texting to phone calls, and disparate workforces needing flexibility, it makes a huge difference.
It Pays to Be Proactive
SMS makes it easier for millennials and all your employees to make hotline reports, on the fly, anywhere, anytime—whether they are out in the field or on the factory floor.
Moreover, when you invite your employees to participate in this way, you are encouraging higher levels of engagement. And that has a ripple effect across your organization: high engagement leads to a greater “speak-up” culture and that translates into higher productivity.
Plus, a digital listening channel feeds more data into your ethics system, giving you a better, more complete, and more accurate picture of risk across your organization. Armed with this information, you can more effectively establish proactive measures to mitigate those risks.
The question is: Why would you not provide additional channels to let your employees’ voices be heard?