SME owners beware: staff prepared to shop you for bad behaviour » SMEInsider

SME owners beware: staff prepared to shop you for bad behaviour

More than four fifths of staff at small and medium-sized businesses say they would blow the whistle on their boss for acting unethically or illegally in the workplace, new research has found.

According to the survey by BSA the Software Alliance, 10 per cent of employees reported knowing about such practices going on in their organisation.


Bullies get the cold shoulder

Bullying is the issue staff are most likely to report, with 73 per cent saying they would shop a bully boss. Other behaviours that employees would blow the whistle on include:

  • Fraud (70 per cent)
  • Theft of company property (61 per cent)
  • Embezzlement (58 per cent)
  • Tax evasion (45 per cent)
  • Failure to meet industry standards (44 per cent).

In addition, more than one third (38 per cent) of workers would report their bosses for questionable IT practices, like use of unlicensed or counterfeit software.

The research highlighted that reports of whistleblowing increased by more than half (58 per cent) in the last year, and cost on average £42,000. A case against one SME for using unlicensed software led to the firm paying damages of £200k.


Apathy can cost

But despite this, many companies are bullish about the prospect of whistleblowing. More than half (55 per cent) of respondents didn’t think their business has become more concerned about whistleblowing.

Moreover, 56 per cent of those polled said they would be reluctant to apply for a job with a company that had been found guilty – or had even just been accused – of unethical or illegal practices.

Sarah Coombes, managing director at BSA EMEA, said: “With more than four fifths of workers willing to blow the whistle, SMEs need to review all of their business practices before it’s too late.

“Our research shows that employees aren’t willing to put up with any practices that break laws or put their ethics into question.

“Whether it’s company fraud or basic operational issues, it’s clear that businesses are flouting the rules. Whether you’re a small or large business, it’s critical to ensure you are operating in a legal and ethical way day in, day out.”