Why people are too scared to speak up

Understanding the barriers to speaking up

In any organisation, communication is essential for success. However, despite the importance of speaking up, many employees are too scared to do so. Whether it’s due to fear of retaliation, embarrassment, or simply not wanting to rock the boat, this reluctance to speak up can have serious consequences for the organisation.

The problem with not speaking up

When employees don’t feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions, they may miss out on opportunities to improve processes, resolve conflicts, or identify potential problems. This can lead to a lack of innovation, poor decision-making, and even legal or ethical issues. Additionally, when employees feel that their voices aren’t being heard, they may become disengaged and unmotivated, leading to high turnover and decreased productivity.

Reasons why

There are many reasons why employees might be hesitant to speak up in the workplace. Some common factors include:

  • Fear of retaliation: Employees may worry that if they speak up about a problem or issue, they will face negative consequences, such as being demoted, fired, or ostracised by colleagues.
  • Embarrassment: Employees may feel embarrassed or uncomfortable sharing their thoughts or ideas, especially if they believe they are not well-informed or experienced enough.
  • Lack of trust: Employees may not trust their colleagues or superiors to take their feedback seriously or respond constructively.
  • Unclear communication channels: If employees are unsure of how to communicate their ideas or concerns, they may be less likely to do so.

How an anonymous communication channel can help

One solution to this problem is the implementation of a two-way anonymous communication channel. Such a channel allows employees to share their thoughts and ideas without fear of retaliation or embarrassment. Here are some ways this type of communication channel could benefit an organisation:

  • Encourages Candour: When employees can communicate anonymously, they are more likely to be candid and transparent about their thoughts and ideas. This can lead to more constructive feedback and better decision-making.
  • Increases trust: An anonymous communication channel can help build trust between employees and management, as it shows that the organisation is committed to listening to feedback and addressing concerns.
  • Allows for constructive criticism: When employees can provide anonymous feedback, they may be more likely to offer constructive criticism that can help improve processes and procedures within the organisation.
  • Fosters innovation: An anonymous communication channel can help generate new ideas and spur innovation, as employees feel more comfortable sharing their creative thoughts and suggestions.

Implementing an anonymous communication channel

To implement an anonymous communication channel, organisations can consider using technology such as WorkInConfidence employee engagement platform which allows employees to submit feedback anonymously.

The platform can be set up to filter and organise feedback, ensuring that the most pressing concerns are addressed first. Additionally, management should make it clear that feedback will be taken seriously and used to make positive changes within the organisation.


In conclusion, the reluctance of employees to speak up in the workplace can have serious consequences for an organisation. By implementing a two-way anonymous communication channel, organisations can encourage honesty, increase trust, and foster innovation.

This type of communication channel can help ensure that every employee has a voice and that their thoughts and ideas are heard and valued.


Elevate your organisational culture with our most popular engagement tools - Free to download

The Definitive Guide to Workplace Bullying

Download the guide and learn how to create a zero tolerance workplace culture and give people a voice

Building a Successful Speak Up Culture in your organisation

Download our free e-book and start improving your organisational health

The Concise Guide to Engaging and Retaining Employees

Download our free e-book to find out how to engage and retain your top talent

Why Civility Matters

Download our infographic to share with your teams to highlight why civility matters

A safe and secure way for your people to anonymously raise concerns via phone, tablet, or PC, ensuring you are aware of any workplace issues and can respond quickly and accordingly
A secure online place to record, track, update, and report on all speaking up matters, whether raised through WorkInConfidence or directly.
Easily set up, run and interpret surveys on engagement, respect, wellness or other topics to ensure you always understand your people, their needs and motivations.
Demonstrate your commitment to collaboration with discussion boards to accelerate employee engagement and gain greater insights – anonymous if required.

Subscribe for insights

Get actionable employee listening insight & resources, direct to your inbox

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter

Receive actionable employee listening insights & resources, direct to your inbox