Lessons on the Open Letter for Your Workplace

Alexander Hamilton, the ten-dollar founding father, may not have originated the Open Letter (published via pamphlet then), but he perfected it. He was a master of the public gripe we now see more frequently against companies. Here is a gem from Hamilton regarding John Adams:

In addition to a full share of the obloquy vented against this description of persons collectively, peculiar accusations have been devised, to swell the catalogue of my demerits…. It is necessary, for the public cause, to repel these slanders; by stating the real views of the persons who are calumniated, and the reasons of their conduct.

Ouch! The recent Open Letter to the Jeff Bezos Blue Frontier group may pale by comparison, but its negative impact is no less real. In a 2,000-word letter, a former employee alleges a toxic work environment marred by sexual harassment and gender bias in the first half. In the second half, she details rushed work and safety concerns. It was signed by 20 current and former employees. Of course, Blue Frontier pushed back but could this be avoided altogether?

Probably. The golden rule for HR is to listen and, when warranted, investigate. A fairly conducted, thorough investigation can go a long way to assuage issues. Even if the investigation does not produce the results the complaining party wants, it shows the company takes its employees and work environment seriously. Make sure your business has an easy to use, well known procedure in place to receive and assess employee concerns. Not only is it a best practice, but it is a useful tool to keep the workplace healthy. We can help.

If this post created a Hamilton musical ear worm, you’re welcome.