Knowledge Base

How we remove barriers to reporting

To activate positive change in your organisation, you need to know what is taking place. To achieve that, you need the victims and witnesses of bullying and harassment to submit a report. Yet a number of factors can create barriers to reports being made, including:

  • The process being too confusing or complex
  • Fears over repercussions of submitting a report – including being labelled as a troublemaker
  • Concerns over a lack of action being taken
  • A feeling that reporting won’t help them deal with what they’ve been through
  • Worries over how their data will be used in the future

The Culture Shift platform is used by more than 50 organisations in the UK and is accessible to over one million people. It has been designed and built to not only provide valuable insight to HR departments, but to break down some of the main barriers of reporting.

Simple and flexible reporting process

What are our forms like?

Our forms have been designed to make it as easy as possible for people who have experienced unacceptable behaviour to inform the relevant teams about it. The needs and ease of end-users have been balanced alongside the data our partners need to track trends and report to stakeholders.

The diagram below summarises both the anonymous and contact advisor reporting routes:

The most important questions go first

Our forms have been designed to make it as easy as possible for people who have experienced unacceptable behaviour to inform the relevant teams about it.

Implementing best practice

The form design uses elements from the Government Digital Standards. It complies with best practices to ask the right questions, in the right way, in adherence to government standards and guidelines.


Multiple choices and radio button questions are ordered in alphabetical or numerical order. This is to remove any unconscious bias on our behalf in presenting information to the end user.


The ethnicity order and usability is based on the Government Digital Standards best practice for gathering and collecting sensitive information and data from people.

Gender identity

We have opted to cover numerous genders in this form whilst also allowing people to self identify and define. It is important to be inclusive of all genders and acknowledging that we cannot force users to identify with our definitions and need to allow for the freedom of choice.


As with gender, our aim is to be as inclusive as possible and ensure we’ve considered as many communities as possible, whilst empowering people to self-identify.

Should we include free text boxes?

It’s important to allow people to describe what they’ve experienced in their own words. All of our forms are designed to empower reporters to use their voices to share their experiences.  These questions are optional but are encouraged.

As such, it’s important that we work with our partners to understand the benefits of giving reporters a voice and how to deal with cases where individuals are identified in anonymous reporting, and the organisation being ‘on notice’.

If something is raised, or someone is identified in an anonymous report, the organisation may hold this data for the period outlined in their privacy notice. This can help prevent further unacceptable behaviour to others.


Our software can be used to enhance existing whistleblowing processes. We work with each of our partners to understand their processes and key roles regarding whistleblowing, and can include a specific question on whistleblowing if partners would like this incorporated.

Whistleblowing is often unclear for employees, and is often seen as a last resort. We recommend that our partners are clear on what behaviours can be reported through Culture Shift software, and which of those behaviours may constitute a whistleblowing offence.

Where partners do have a Whistleblowing Officer, we encourage that they have permission to access relevant information in the case management dashboard. Furthermore, we encourage the support articles to contain detail about any relevant whistleblowing hotlines.


We encourage all partners with safeguarding responsibilities to provide access to the safeguarding lead or designated safeguarding officer in the dashboard.

Within our reporting form, third parties can report on behalf of others including the Safeguarding Lead. You can also list ‘safeguarding concern’ as an incident type within the system.

We encourage all of our partners to ensure that any relevant policies relating to safeguarding have references to our software being used, and to ensure there is a clear risk assessment and escalation process in place.

Risk assessment framework

The risk assessment framework gives Culture Shift partners a series of questions to enable them to ground the context of incidents of harassment and bullying, right through from the point of first disclosure to any potential disciplinary action.

The framework was built on the principle of fair treatment to all parties, focusing on assessing the risk to others, providing balanced support to individuals and identifying possible interventions or interim measures.

It can apply to all different types of behaviours, enabling you to provide a detailed assessment and determine the next steps. It’s been developed with best-practice and trauma-informed practice in mind, whilst balancing legal obligations such as safeguarding, equality law, employment law, criminal law and data protection.

Some of the questions may not be applicable for every case, for example, not all cases will go through an investigation or disciplinary procedure. But the framework does provide clear instruction to document all decisions and outcomes, and to update these regularly. This is essential in communicating the reasoning for decisions both to internal parties, and if necessary to third parties or during processes such as employment tribunals or the criminal justice system.

What happens when you don’t apply a framework to assessing risk in bullying and harassment cases?

If the risk and impact to individuals is not identified or effectively addressed it can lead to a cultural acceptance that the behaviour is okay, or to an escalation of these behaviours and further victimisation of the individuals who have experienced them.

There’s also the risk that people within your organisation will believe that nothing will be done where concerns of unacceptable behaviour have been raised, which remains the key reason people choose to report anonymously.

Should it be applied for every type of case?

Yes, there are a range of different risks to be assessed, including low risks, but it is an important part of effective and consistent case management to undertake this process – even if the risk is low.

Risk can change over time, and it’s important to document this thinking as it develops. If not, organisations run the risk of behaviour escalating and having to ‘fire fight’, rather than engage in early intervention and effective prevention.

What if the risk profile changes during the case?

It’s important to set a regular review point to assess the risk, you will agree this depending on the nature of the behaviour and risk during the first risk assessment panel. We suggest that you complete a new risk assessment form for each review so that you can effectively capture the considerations made and decision each time. This is also important if the case is referred to external processes such as employment tribunal, or the criminal justice system.

Relevant and constant support

How can you help us support people who report?

Culture Shift connects people who have experienced unacceptable behaviour, with advisors and teams to offer support. Support can vary depending on your organisation’s process and can range from options about informal and formal resolution to emotional and practical support.

If this isn’t something that your organisation doesn’t currently offer, don’t worry, Culture Shift is here to help. Our products and services have been designed to enable success in tackling harassment and promoting inclusion for your organisation.

What other support can we offer through the system?

The Culture Shift platform includes standard support articles and copy. Support articles provide additional, informal support for your community for your community. It’s a way to help people who are reporting gain confidence in their reports, as well as gain clarity on the process and what they’ve experienced.

Our platform also has the power to house campaigns. Campaigns can be used to highlight specific issues and topics and are a great way to draw attention to the problems that your community is facing. Depending on your package, we’ll work with you to ensure you’re making the most out of your campaigns for maximum impact.

Privacy and data protection

The key priority for Culture Shift is to remove barriers to reporting for those affected by unacceptable behaviour. The introductory messages and recommended language have been carefully framed balancing data protection obligations, with the need to ensure reporting parties and/or survivors are not deterred by legal language.

You can explicitly link to your privacy notice for how personal and special category data will be processed through Culture Shift by embedding it within the introduction and including consent through making the report, or at the end.


Promote your platform and get the right message to the right people with Culture Shift campaigns.

Launching a reporting tool shows your commitment to tackling unacceptable behaviour, but for it to work, you need people to use it.

We can help you with our selection of campaigns on topics including raising awareness and being an active bystander. We provide you with the key messages, digital assets and implementation plan you need to promote your platform, educate your people and enhance positive change.

The key outcome of any campaign is to raise awareness of your Report + Support site, and encourage people to report through it when they’ve experienced or witnessed something.

With more reports, you’ll gain a better insight into your culture. You’ll also be better placed to offer support to more people who need it, and create positive, lasting change.

Key features include:

  • A ready to go campaign
  • Fully inclusive and accessible design
  • Survivor-first messaging
  • Key messages informed by nudge theory
  • Easy to follow communications calendar
  • Complete suite of white-label digital assets

Anonymous reporting

Only being able to give a named report is one of the biggest barriers to reporting, which is why Culture Shift provides a confidential, anonymous reporting route. This empowers people who are experiencing unacceptable behaviour in their organisation to speak about their experiences and encourages others to do the same.

Organisations need to design clear routes for anonymous and named reports, so that reporting parties have clear expectations and understanding about what might happen next.  Depending on your partnership package, Culture Shift can help support the design of your processes and reporting routes.

Anonymous reporting enables organisations to take proactive and informal action to effectively address and prevent unacceptable behaviour within workplaces. The Culture Shift team is at hand to support you in navigating data protection, privacy and GDPR regulations when it comes to anonymous reporting. Together, we can ensure people have the tools they need to get the right support.

What can you do with anonymous reports? 

Our products help organisations gain insight about how they can proactively address poor culture. Anonymous reports and insight can be used for trend reporting, to assess challenges within an organisation and to design preventative interventions to resolve these issues and prevent further incidents.

The proactive measures organisations can take, include:

  • Regular trend analysis across departments/teams with a recommended plan of action including targeting support, or increasing training and skill development
  • Transparent reporting on insights on an annual basis
  • Environmental investigations or cultural audits where there are higher rates or reportings or concerns for a toxic environment.

Actionable trends

The platform has been built with data analysis in mind. The analytics feature empowers your organisation to be able to understand the detail of what’s happening across your organisation. This data will help you take necessary preventative action, step in where things are working, and help spot patterns of unacceptable behaviour.

Our analytics dashboard has three different components:

  1. At a glance; giving you an overview of your weekly statistics
  2. In detail; where you can split your data analysis by protected characteristic information or use to help you respond to freedom of information requests
  3. Over time; where you can see a year-on-year trend analysis, broken down by the categories you select.

All of the data in our analytics system is anonymised and can only be accessed by the users with the permissions to do so, and will not include any spam reports in the analysis. Our bespoke analytics system can support internal reporting, responding to freedom of information requests, as well as providing evidence for charter marks.

Your action and word is as good as your ability to work with your data to take action, so use these actionable trends to activate lasting change.

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