We have noticed an interesting phenomenon in dentistry. When you look at all types of business in aggregate, “whistleblowers” are responsible for detecting 43% of embezzlement. However, when you narrow the focus to just dentistry, the number drops dramatically to under 10%.
One possibility is that other staff members are unaware that one of their colleagues is up to something. Our (admittedly non-scientific) experience suggests that this is often not the case. The more common reason that staff with concerns do not express those concerns is that they do not feel comfortable doing so.
Clearly, there is a significant opportunity to catch embezzlement more quickly than you otherwise would if the barriers preventing concerned staff members from approaching the owner of their practice were removed.
What are these barriers? There are probably several risks that someone perceives about bringing concerns forward:
What can be done to enhance the likelihood that a staff member with concerns will come forward? Many practice owners have given some thought to how they would respond if approached by a team member with concerns. Unfortunately, this thought process takes place inside the practice owner’s head. It is not discernable to an employee who is agonizing about bringing their suspicions to the practice owner.
The way to influence someone wrestling with whether to become a whistleblower is to provide them with the assurance that their concerns will be handled properly. Since there is no way to identify someone facing this dilemma, this requires a standing policy on how someone bringing concerns forward will be handled. Normally this policy should be incorporated into a practice’s employee handbook and communicated with all employees.
What are the elements of a successful whistleblower policy? Here are some key commitments the policy should make:
Creating a comfortable and secure environment where someone with information of tremendous value to you is motivated to deliver that information to you can have an immense payoff. We can help by providing our template whistleblower policy to any practice owner on request.
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