June 27, 2017
“When hearts are high
The time will fly
So whistle while you work
So whistle while you work…”
In 1937, Walt Disney Studios released its animated classic ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.’ One of the film’s featured musical numbers was the song, ‘Whistle While You Work.’ The song’s carefree and whimsical look at various woodland creatures helping Snow White while she cleaned her cottage became an instantaneous hit. Fast-forward. 52 years later, while there were still many happy-go-lucky employees who continued to whistle while they worked; in 1989, there was a new and rapidly growing segment of the workforce that became disgruntled with their jobs and raised serious concerns about workplace problems to their employers. These employees started whistleblowing while they worked, and they weren’t whistling ‘Dixie.’
In 1989, the Whistleblower Protection Act, was placed into law to protect federal employees because their supervisors (agents of the government) threatened to retaliate against them for reporting government misconduct, i.e. breaking the law, mismanaging and wasting funds, abusing power, or endangering public health or safety. Imagine that, government officials actually punishing government employees and threatening them with disciplinary action up to and including dismissal for filing reports about matters that could potentially jeopardize the public’s welfare. From the whistleblowers point of view, and from the perspective of most concerned taxpayers, whistleblowers were doing the right thing. In the eyes of their supervisors, whistleblowers undermined the efficient operations of government, caused disruption, and contributed to low employee morale.
From either perspective (as disconcerting as it may be for some supervisors), because whistleblowers hold an enterprise accountable, and keep those in-charge honest, they can play a vital role in the success of an organization. Whistleblowers are owed a debt of gratitude for keeping a watchful eye on government. Unfortunately, their actions are usually met with harsh disapproval and unjust retribution. So, whether you whistle or whistle-blow while you work, your employer should be treating you with kindness and respect, and maybe even offering you a promotion.
Robert J. Harris (@edudexterous) is the Founder of Edudexterity.