🤝 VoiceWorks

Preventing misconduct at an early startup

No startup is perfect. As your company grows, you will inevitably face challenges in maintaining a respectful and professional workplace. One way to protect your employees and your business is to have a well-defined process for reporting misconduct.

A thoughtful, intentional misconduct reporting process reflects your company’s values. It can help you address problems early and also give you a way to track patterns of behavior and identify potential risk factors.

Having a HR misconduct reporting process in place can also help you defend against lawsuits or other legal action. If an employee does file a lawsuit, you will be able to show that you took their concerns seriously and took appropriate action.

When to consider implementing a misconduct reporting process

You may be reading this because you’re thinking ahead and considering whether your organization will benefit from a misconduct reporting process.

Here are some key reasons to consider formalizing your process:

1. When you have more than 6 employees

The “right” moment can vary based on the composition of your company, its culture, and your risk tolerance. But we recommend implementing a process early - probably earlier than you’d expect. Setting up a process for misconduct early shows employees that you value psychological safety, that you care about cultivating supportive culture, and you care about employees. It also minimizes risk. You do not want to wait until it’s too late.

2. When you want to create a more respectful workplace

Even if you are not legally required to have a misconduct reporting process, you may want to consider implementing a policy that reflects your company values and sets the tone for how you’d like employees to interact. By addressing problems early, you can create a more positive and productive work environment.

If you are concerned about the risk of lawsuits or other legal action, a misconduct reporting process can help you reduce that risk and catch problems early.

4. When you are growing quickly

If you are experiencing rapid growth, it is especially important to have a misconduct reporting process in place. With more employees comes more potential for problems. A misconduct reporting process can help you prevent and address these problems before they get out of hand.

How to design an effective HR reporting process

There are a few important factors to keep in mind when designing your process:

1. Be encouraging

Your misconduct reporting process should be designed to encourage employees to come forward with any concerns about inappropriate behavior. It should be confidential, easy to use, and accessible to all employees. Software like VoiceWorks can help with this.

2. Be clear about what is considered misconduct

Your process should also be clear about what types of behavior are considered misconduct. This will help employees know when to use the process and what to expect.

3. Have a clear escalation path

Finally, you should designate a specific person or team to handle misconduct reports. This will help ensure that reports are taken seriously and investigated promptly.

How to share the new process with employees

A policy isn’t worth anything if it’s not communicated with employees. Here are some steps to take to make sure that your new process is properly communicated to employees:

1. Choose a reporting tool

The first step is to choose a tool to share the process with employees. A tool like VoiceWorks makes it easy to follow best practices, including: confidential/anonymous reporting, notifications, and a clear chain of case ownership and paper trail.

2. Create and document the policy

Before you launch the policy, create a document that serves as a single source of truth for your expectations of employees, what constitutes misconduct, and how to escalate it. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the process is followed correctly. Store this document on the company intranet.

3. Train managers and supervisors

Once you have chosen a tool and established a policy, you should train managers and supervisors on the new process. They should be familiar with the process and be able to answer any questions that employees may have.

4. Announce the policy

Share the process with employees by announcing it at an all-hands. A follow-up email that includes details and explains the new policy in writing also helps. Be sure to link to the full policy document and include a brief overview of what it entails.

5. Post the policy in a public place

Another way to share the policy is to post it in a public place, such as the break room, in the company handbook, or in a prominent place on your company intranet. This will help ensure that all employees have easy access to the information.

6. Follow up

Once you have announced the policy, you should follow up with employees to ensure that they understand it. You may want to send a reminder email or post an FAQ sheet.


Ultimately, an HR incident or misconduct reporting process is an important part of creating a safe and respectful workplace. It can help you identify and address problems early, protect your employees, and defend your business.