We are Paul and Shaun and we are the founders of Say So.
We want to explain our motivation to protect the vulnerable, to ensure fairness and improve the working environment by the development of a trusted and impartial facility for reporting workplace concerns.
Our background is complex investigations, standards checking, codes of practice compliance and quality assurance. We have experience of taking witness statements and conducting interviews to criminal law standards (the highest legal standard of proof 'beyond reasonable doubt').
In particular, we have significant experience of managing sensitive information (up to level of Top Secret) including associated security measures.
We met while working on an assignment to Surrey Police changing the working culture and developing expertise around public protection investigations that primarily involve child or vulnerable adult victims.
Many of the cases of serious service failures and related prosecutions were found to be based around failings previously known to staff but were either unknown to management or known to some but not suitably managed. The reasons for this gap in information were varied but mainly involved the lack of confidence in current reporting process, lack of confidence in management or fear of detrimental action if staff 'rocked the boat'.
This assignment served to galvanise our passion to create a service that would keep more people safe by improving communication in the workplace.
Say So has been developed to utilise our skills and background so that crucial information, not previously available to senior managers, concerning risk to any person is accessed by management for action.
We began to realize that a workplace that could be kept safe for all was a workplace that was capable of better performance and operated more cost effectively. There would be fewer serious incidents, so fewer civil claims - fewer staff issues, so greater staff retention levels - more opportunities for early interventions - so avoiding major failures.
In the care sector, we're talking about information about issues ranging from:
- Minor but persistent conduct issues
- Interruption of meal provision (eg late or cold meals)
- Lack of compassion
to more serious issues of:
- theft and fraud
- use of equipment without proper training
- removal of dignity
- failing to maintain proper cleanliness and hygiene
- verbal abuse, threats of violence and assaults
When marketing our service in the care sector we came into contact with other businesses and they too expressed interest. We quickly became convinced that our service would be effective in almost any industry sector and not just limited to the care sector. This is because all businesses need to manage physical, emotional, reputational and financial risks.
In other industry sectors,
Examples of minor issues may be,
- poor equipment use/maintenance
- verbal abuse
- minor theft/fraud
to more serious:
- use of equipment without proper training
- failure to report equipment damage/failure
- bullying / intimidation
- serious staff welfare concerns
- discriminating behaviour
- Physical/sexual harassment and assault
So what does Say-So offer?
- Say-So provides a completely independent reporting facility (using cost-free telephone or online options) for staff to make reports of any issue that affects the standard of service/product delivery.
- Say-So provides briefings to management and staff explaining their service and how it can change culture.
- Say-So sensitively receives and manages reports in a way that maintains anonymity of the reporter and will not disclose identities to employers unless written permission is given.
- Say-So will instruct lawyers to make robust representations arguing against disclosure of identities (where notice of applications to court is provided).
- Say-So will not furnish identities of reporters in response to requests made under the Data Protection Act.
- Say-So then, offers a reporting service that staff can have confidence in.
We believe that by working with Say-So our clients will be:
- Demonstrating their determination to obtain all information possible from their staff to keep people safe
- Respecting and valuing their staff by listening to them
- Enhancing their reputation amongst service users and wider community
- Demonstrating good leadership and governance to the CQC or other regulatory bodies
- Doing all they can to improve workplace harmony
Some businesses will probably already have a policy for reporting workplace issues? But they should ask themselves - is it effective? Most in-house arrangements are inherently flawed. The process may involve simply going to a more senior manager BUT no proper accommodation is made for confidentiality or anonymity. Everyone will know the identity of the person reporting within a short period. THIS PUTS MOST PEOPLE OFF.
We have also established from our own experience, research and consultation with senior industry and academic figures that all risk information does not escalate to senior management positions. This is because it is 'trapped' at the operational delivery or frontline level. Staff at this level can be apprehensive about speaking out for many different reasons - some of which would be:
- Fear of detrimental treatment by employer
- Fear of poor treatment from colleagues (incl. bullying/intimidation)
- Relationship dynamics at work (friends/partners)
- Not wishing to become involved in court/tribunal etc. as a witness
- Character/Personality inhibitors of the reporter
We believe many senior director level managers and owners have misplaced confidence that they know all they should know about what is happening in the workplace?
I put it to them that - YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW!!
We know that independence is crucial to persuade staff to report concerns they see or experience in the workplace because there are no pre-existing relationship or loyalty issues or fears that the person at the other end of the phone can deduce their likely identity through personal knowledge of staff, shift patterns or working environment.
We also know that if staff fear being ostracized or marginalized or worse threatened then offering to mask their identity will reassure them. Our staff are experienced in talking to people who are concerned about reporting wrongdoing and by careful handling are able to draw out information in the most difficult circumstances.
With an option for staff to report in this way, the company gains numerous benefits beyond the information itself:
- A deterrent effect against any wrongdoing in the workplace
- Reduction/removal of any bullying/unfairness in the workplace
- A fair and positive working environment for all
- An access-all-areas live surveillance system
The principle of openness in reporting is a trend now being much promoted in the NHS with Freedom To Speak Out Guardians and similar principles and systems in place in banking and majority of leading FTSE 250 companies.
The culture amongst health and care industry is becoming more and more supportive of peer reporting and towards an open flow of information between shop floor and senior management. Our service adds to this trend and offers senior management an opportunity to obtain information that is crucial to their business performance, information that they might otherwise never obtain or at least only after a significant failure.
No-one should keep any information concerning risks, failures in standards or other workplace performance issues undermining company goals to themselves.
When staff care about delivering the best service, reporting workplace concerns is the right thing to do.
“ If standards of service are being missed– Say So
If someone is being persistently bullied– Say So
If someone is in need of welfare support– Say So
If a criminal offence is taking place - Say So
If someone is not being treated fairly - Say So
Just Say So. ”
We also believe that:
- All Staff at all levels deserve to be heard.
- Companies need to listen - the safety of their service users and their staff are factors that should not be compromised.
- Businesses need to maintain or enhance their reputations
- Service users and their families want to know that those responsible for the care of their loved ones are doing all they can to keep them safe
We believe that a responsible forward-looking company owners and senior business leaders will understand that encompassing Say So within their reporting options for staff will demonstrate all of the following:
That they put the safety and wellbeing of people above all else
That they don't just do the industry minimum requirement
That they encourage staff to come forward to report concerns
They value full and inclusive communications with their staff
They understand that even in well managed workplaces there still remains some barriers to open communication
They are doing all they can to stop gaps in knowledge of whats going on in their company
They are showing good leadership and governance (CQC inspection elements)
They are concerned about making the workplace as good as it can be for their staff
That they want to move their internal communications culture and attitudes forward so that staff feel totally comfortable to engage in open and frank discussions about what happens in the workplace (good, bad or otherwise)