You’ll often see whistleblowers praised for helping eliminate unethical practices, but what about the downside of whistleblowing?
Sadly, it’s not always sunshine and rainbows for whistleblowers, but it’s a subject that isn’t mentioned much. It’s important to know about what could go wrong and why companies need to protect those who report wrongdoing.
Losing Your Job
The most common downside of whistleblowing is losing your job. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act is designed to protect whistleblowers from retaliation, yet it’s sometimes hard to prove why you were fired. Suddenly, all it takes is the smallest infraction for you to be let go. While you know the real reason, you have to prove it. You should still report the retaliation or contact a lawyer as you do have a legal right to report unethical behavior without being punished.
Harassment At Work
Firing might be too straightforward. Instead, some whistleblowers experience harassment at work. The idea is to force the employee to quit. The bad part is it often works. If you had to deal with being constantly harassed and put down, it may seem better to simply quit than fight back. However, you shouldn’t have to deal with this. Whether it’s a single employee or multiple people, report those who are harassing you immediately. You can still quit, but this lets you quit on your own terms.
No Opportunity For Promotion
At first, being a whistleblower might fill you with pride. Yet, when you see others being promoted over you, you might come to regret blowing the whistle. First of all, never feel bad for doing the right thing. Your employer or supervisor is the one in the wrong here. Yet, many whistleblowers get stuck and don’t get promoted when they deserve to be.
Mental Health Issues
All of the above can be fixed simply by getting another, and hopefully better, job. The worst part is the mental health issues that result from the harassment and other whistleblower retaliation schemes. Losing a job creates stress and financial difficulty, leading to even more mental health problems. In fact, one study found that 84% of whistleblowers suffer from severe anxiety and depression. Of course, physical health issues are also a problem among 69% of whistleblowers.
Problems At Home
The more stress a whistleblower is under, the more it hurts their relationships with others. It’s a common downside of whistleblowing to have problems with their family and friends. The stress simply becomes too much. Problems providing for their family just leads to even more issues.
While typically you think of the side effects only hurting the whistleblowers, it can also lead to brand mistrust. Sometimes, claims that prove to be untrue have already done their damage. This is why it’s important for companies to take all whistleblower claims seriously and investigate immediately so the whistleblower doesn’t have to involve outside sources.
The key to take away from all of these unwanted side effects is whistleblowers need more protection. They are making companies better and safer and they deserve to be treated with respect. An anonymous hotline will mitigate these unwanted side effects, as the whistleblower will be protected by their anonymity.