Janice Reed
Community Specialist
Posted July 14, 2020

Speak up: How to effect change at work

Is something at work bothering you? Here's how to start changing your workplace to be safer and less stressful.
Janice Reed
Community Specialist
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Speak up: How to effect change at work
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You may be trying to cope with an issue within your workplace, but feel unable to speak up about what you’re going through. Maybe you don’t want to cause a fuss, perhaps you’re being bullied by a coworker, or maybe there are workplace policies in place which could cause harm or danger to you and your peers. No matter what’s going on, if your workplace feels stressful or unsafe you should feel empowered to say something about it.

What are the consequences of not speaking up?

There can be real repercussions to staying silent in a workplace where you feel stressed by your environment. These repercussions will almost always end negatively for you, so it’s important to be aware of what could happen if you bottle up your stress. Here are just a few of the things that could happen if you stay too long in a stressful work environment without speaking up for yourself:

  • Your mental or physical health could be impacted
  • Your work performance could suffer
  • You could lose your cool with someone in your workplace

How to effect change at work

If you’re trying to raise awareness about a problem at work, you’ll want to actually be heard by the person or people who can help you fix it. By following these steps you can ensure that you have done everything you can to approach the situation with tact and care. Doing this puts you in a better position to be taken seriously by your company.

1. Talk to your peers about the issue

If you’re experiencing stress at work due to a problem in the workplace, chances are others around you may be affected by it as well. Talk to your coworkers and peers to see what their take on the situation is. Just knowing that other people see the issue too can make others more willing to speak up themselves, and before you know it you could have a group of people willing to add their support and speak up with you.

2. Know what your resources and rights are

If the issue you’re facing at work has to do with a work policy, it may be a good idea to get informed about what outside resources may be able to help you. Being informed means you know exactly what your employer is required (or has promised) to provide and what you’re entitled to ask for.

People you can consult to get informed about your rights in the workplace are:

  • An HR representative from your company’s Human Resources Department
  • A representative from a worker’s union or guild you belong to
  • An OSHA representative
  • A local employment or social justice lawyer

Depending on the severity of the problems you’re facing in the workplace, some of these resources may not apply, however you should be aware that these people exist to inform and protect you from an unsafe workplace.

3. Find the right person in your company to talk to

Once you’re informed on your rights in the workplace, you’ll want to reach out to your boss or supervisor. This person should be someone who takes responsibility for your team’s success and wellbeing. If there’s a problem in your team or your workplace, they should know how to escalate that issue within your company and should feel personally accountable for seeing that escalation through.

Even if this person isn’t your direct supervisor, you likely have a picture of which person I’m talking about from the description above. That’s the person you’ll want to schedule time with.

4. Set a time to discuss the issue

The matter you’d like to discuss with your manager may feel urgent, but it’s important to schedule a time to talk to them, rather than starting that conversation without a proper introduction. Setting a future time ensures that you:

  • Can prepare yourself to be calm and professional when you speak
  • Can prepare what points you want to make
  • Can invite other peers and concerned parties to speak up with you
  • Can ensure that you have the resources and information you need handy

Your manager may also be more receptive to what you have to say if the conversation is something they can plan their other work around. If you pull your manager aside during the day, they might feel anxious or frustrated if they have other commitments to attend to while you’re talking. You want their full attention, so schedule a time in advance so all parties can come ready to discuss the issue without feeling distracted or emotional.


Speaking up is difficult, but necessary!

Is there something you’d like to speak up about in your workplace? Let our community help you prepare to speak up by sharing more below.

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Janice Reed
Community Specialist
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Comments

Wendy Seney

So no one flips out on me I do not benefit from any of these choices, I’m on SSD. I understand the struggle of trying to make ends meet and raising a family. I feel that our essential workers deserve something. They risk their lives and their families everyday for Americans! They deserve more than just a thank you great job!

1y
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tauron lawrence

You right

1y
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