Why an Open-Door Policy Isn't Enough

By Claire Schmidt
May 11, 2020

When we speak to companies about anonymous employee reporting, a common misconception is that existing processes negate the need for it. Companies often rely on older processes for reporting workplace issues, including speaking directly to your manager, or utilizing HR’s open door policy. While these are ideal steps for an employee to take when an issue arises, they simply are not feasible for every employee at an organization.

Here’s why:

Technology is now our comfort zone

The workplace doesn’t look the same it did 10 or even 5 years ago. Today employees are more comfortable with technology and digital communication than any other form. By giving employees a reporting tool that feels natural to them, you will have a continuous flow of honest and unfiltered feedback. Employees even find comfort reporting through online tools non-anonymously -- even with their name attached, they tend to prefer conversations about their workplace to take place online rather than in-person. When the employee is initiating the conversation, it is best to allow them to use the avenue they feel most comfortable with. The tools we use at work must rival the easy-to-use apps we leverage on a daily basis to entertain, feed, and transport ourselves.

Having more than one way to report is reassuring

Situations in the workplace are incredibly nuanced, so having a one-size-fits-all process for reporting issues and resolving them is simply not realistic. A truly transparent and trusted culture is one that allows for several avenues for reporting to and communicating with leadership. Making employees feel encouraged to speak up about what is important to them is what really creates a safe work environment. Feeling stuck without a comfortable way forward puts employees in a place where being productive at work is incredibly difficult, and employees resort to leaving their job, posting on more public external channels, or even taking legal action against the company. Ensuring every employee knows that their safety and happiness at work is important to leadership is how a productive and inspired team flourishes.

Company culture starts with listening

Company culture is an ongoing and ever-changing process for a company. It isn’t something that you can check off the list and have accomplished. It is a constant work in progress, as teams change, as leadership changes, as the nature of business changes. Listening to what is important to your employees gives you a holistic pulse of the company, and will guide you on how to foster a culture that is fulfilling to your company. While many say culture starts at the top, we like to think that the best cultures start at the bottom, and are acknowledged and respected at the top. Leaders that really hear their employees and actively take into consideration their needs and priorities are the ones that foster inclusive, happy workforces.

What can happen if leadership doesn’t listen

On the other hand, companies who forgo employee feedback take the risk of falling under intense scrutiny through reputational damage, negative press, or even undergoing costly investigations. Companies like Uber have shown how costly it can be when an organization suffers public reputational damage.

Open door policies aren’t always possible

An open-door policy is a nice idea, and can often work well, but often assumes that every employee is in the same physical place as their HR or leadership team. In the modern workplace, this just isn’t the case for most companies. With multiple office locations, and more companies implementing a remote work structure, stopping by someone’s office for a chat is not always a possibility. Because of this, it is important to implement alternative ways for employees to give their honest feedback and feel their voice is still being heard. Doing so not only leads to more productive and happier employees, but also empowers company leaders to recognize trends and take data-driven action to improve the company culture proactively.

It’s intimidating to speak in person

Coming forward to raise an issue within your company takes courage, as employees often fear retaliation, and don’t always feel comfortable having a face to face conversation about a sensitive issue. In many cases, companies are asking employees to have a vulnerable conversation face to face with someone they have never even met. A recent Randstad US survey found that one-quarter of employees would rather leave their job than report they’ve experienced harassment.

Why we exist

Through our research looking at employee safety and happiness, we evaluated all of the existing tools and processes companies have put in place. We recognized where things fell short, why issues went unreported, and why good employees felt their only way forward was to leave their jobs. We’ve also been those employees at companies where despite existing processes, we felt unwelcome to speak up about issues. AllVoices was built with the employee in mind -- making them feel comfortable as they report, rather than like they are submitting a police report, making the platform accessible via mobile to ensure they can report when and where they would like to, and giving administrators the ability to respond directly while the employee remains anonymous.

We believe in the power of technology to better the human experience. AllVoices exists to give employees a safe place to speak up, and to provide company leadership with the trends and data to analyze and proactively improve their company’s culture. With these types of tools and processes in place, every company can be a positive, productive, and successful environment in which its employees can thrive.

Don’t get caught off guard by employee feedback. AllVoices can help.
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