Why your employees might not be so excited about reporting

In theory, incident reporting should be universally considered a ”good thing”, right?

It provides a clear paper trail when things go wrong. It can often lead to changes which prevent similar incidents. And it helps employers develop a safer workplace, which improves efficiency and reduces fines and lawsuits.

But it’s not uncommon for some employees to see it as a burden. Or for employers and employees to end up in conflict over reports that are incomplete, inconsistent - or even not filed at all. A lot of that could be down to how reporting is seen in your organisation.

At Logincident, we work with clients to ensure that they’ve got an incident reporting system that precisely fits their needs, and is simple for employees to use.

However, maybe you’re also looking to embed a better reporting culture in your team. Which involves putting yourself in the shoes of your employees. So what questions might they be asking when they’re faced with a blank report:

1) What is reporting “for”?

On the surface, you’d think the obvious answer to this would be: “to make workplaces safer”.

But it’s striking how easy it can be for other perspectives to slip in. Perspectives which can de-motivate your workforce, or even sour them to the idea entirely.

For example, there are a number of laws and regulations out there that help to mandate better workplace safety. But an organisation which solely focuses on the need to meet those requirements may end up convincing its workforce that reporting is a “box-ticking exercise”.

Equally, increased efficiency is another benefit. But focusing on this too heavily might imply that “productivity” is more important than “well-being”. This could be a particular risk where workloads are already high - which is sometimes cited as a reason for incomplete reports or failure to report.

Employees will naturally be more enthusiastic about completing a task that it is relevant to them, that they are part of the process, and that there is a tangible benefit to doing it.

So:

- Are your workforce aware of the benefits of reporting?

- Do they understand why the chosen questions and processes are necessary, or do they have a part in deciding them?

- Do they see the impact of these reports, and does it improve their day-to-day working experience?

2) Will it take long?

When you’re in a busy workplace, you’re looking to be as efficient as possible.

And that can potentially be an obstacle when it comes to getting complete and informative reports, particularly for “near-misses”.

It’s not uncommon for under-reporting to occur because the staff member believed they dealt with the problem themselves, or that they didn’t want to go through all the questions that might follow. And there’s also that sense of dread that bubbles up when they know they’re about to spend hours wading through a long, technical form, with ambiguous, confusing questions and sections that seem irrelevant or unsuited to the incident.

Sometimes, filling in a report properly will take *a little* time. But it’s vital that the process is planned properly, and with the person completing the form in mind. At Logincident, we can help you deliver a bespoke process that can be adapted to your workplace, and can be quickly and easily completed.

3) Who gets the blame?

Are your employees not filling in forms because they see it as “inviting trouble”?

Employees can be reluctant to complete reports because they believe they might lose status or points, or damage the company’s accident record. They could be worried about affecting workplace morale, or even being blamed, fined or fired.

It’s all too easy for reporting to feed into a negative culture of blame in an organisation. This is why many workplaces have evolved their reports to include such things as positive observations, which note where responses and actions have had welcome consequences. Including this could help to reassure an employee that they are helping to improve conditions and processes, rather than being asked to “blame” someone.

Accountability is important. But if the only outcome of a report is that someone gets censured or fired, that will quickly result in a culture in which employees are reluctant to file them. Instead, reports should be structured to focus on making the workplace safer, and on highlighting improvements that can be made that will benefit everyone.

4) What will change?

This one comes back to the first point, to some extent.

Can your employees point to a case where a report resulted in a change for the better? Can you?

If not, it’s easy for employees to come to the conclusion that reports are simply locked in a filing cabinet and never seen again.

The best reporting culture is the one where it’s easy to see the progression from reporting to tangible, beneficial change. This comes down to asking the right questions, being open to discussion about what should change and how, and committing to making that happen.

With a digital, bespoke solution like Logincident, companies with multiple sites can also identify problems that could affect the entire group, and resolve them before anything happens. And they can also spot best practice on one site, and roll it out company-wide.

An app alone is not enough. But Logincident could be part of a more collaborative and less blame-driven approach to incident reporting, in which your employees are more empowered and willing to help you create a more positive safety culture, and a better workplace.