Here’s a fact that might surprise you: Society owes quite a debt to whistleblowers — the people who inform the government of a company’s particular wrongdoing. Such individuals are vital to stopping and punishing corruption by a company. It can be considered an honorable task, not only because it seeks to stop misconduct, but also because prospective whistleblowers will need to have courage due to potential backlash.

However fine the idea of honor is, it’s far from the only incentive encouraging the task; money is the practical incentive to undergo whistleblowing. Some situations will allow a whistleblower to gain a hefty sum of money from the government in exchange for his or her information. Not only this, but he or she may also gain a significant recovery should the company attempt to retaliate by firing or demoting the whistleblower.

The extent of the protection granted to the whistleblower will vary depending on the company’s business industry, what type of wrongdoing suspected, as well as several other factors. It is entirely possible that no additional remedies will be offered.

Impact of Whistleblowing

At work, whistleblowing is the topic of dissent; the primary goal, however, seeks to benefit society as a whole. It greatly impacts employees, the company and the community along with its economy.

At the employee level, whistleblowing often involves moral dilemmas as well as conflicts of interests for those who must go to the public with their evidence of corruption and wrongdoing. On the company level, there are issues with loyalty, dissent and similar. On the societal level, whistleblowing displays the importance of accountability in addition to helping form a support group for affected individuals, if applicable.

Employee Level:

An employee of the suspect company, the whistleblower is someone whose job it is to make others aware of a policy, product or service that is immoral, unethical, not legal, or outright dangerous for the public to be exposed to. Such an individual will make reports to his or her immediate supervisor, the top level administrator, and eventually public press if all else fails.

The whistleblower will usually be praised if his or her investigation was thorough and appropriate while benefiting the company and preventing society from suffering. In a similar vein, if the reveal was not appropriate, such as lacking sufficient evidence, then he or she will likely be fired and suffer additional consequences on a personal level.

Company Level:

No matter how much the reveal could benefit the company, the initial reaction to whistleblowing is usually negative. Sometimes, the employee can weaken the core chain of command, which threatens how well the company operates, which will make the employees feel less secure in their jobs — all of which naturally leads to serious uncertainty. When the whistleblower succeeds in bringing public awareness to corruption and wrongdoing, the news is almost guaranteed to embarrass the company.

As a matter of fact, the negative publicity as a result of the corruption reveal could have financial repercussions for the company as customers cease their business and drop their support. Management could have increased turnover, and the company can experience serious loss in organization efficiency and general cohesion.

Of course, the whistleblower isn’t all doom and gloom; he or she can provide benefits for the company overall as the investigation stops corruption and dangerous practices, both of which hinder productivity in the long run. Despite some initial loss of support, the increased productivity will pay for itself over time.

The benefits that whistleblowing can bring are perhaps most apparent in the cases of public health and safety, which are some of the highest stakes when it comes to corruption and illegal practices; abusing public health can have serious ramifications due to the substantial danger. For example, wrongdoing at pharmaceutical firms, car factories and nuclear power plants can all create deadly consequences for society.

Societal Level:

On a broader scale, the employee helps out society in general. All companies work within the social community, relying on it while being integral to its existence. As such, whistleblowing benefits experienced by fellow employees and the company are ultimately societal benefits as well. To be more specific, it’ll help control organizational misconduct as well as unethical behavior.

Society truly benefits from whistleblowing as it’s a tool to correct misdeeds within private companies. It offers whistleblowers the opportunity for great rewards like monetary incentives, but it also gives the whistleblower a boost to his or her conscience as he or she helps protect society from dangerous practices.