Whether you’re looking to implement a new ethics hotline policy now or as part of your 2022 company ethics strategy, there are a few things to know. Simply setting up an ethics hotline won’t guarantee compliance and reporting success. Instead, consider these tips and ethics hotline best practices as you get started.
Generating Awareness of the Ethics Hotline
If your company hasn’t had an ethics hotline before, you’ll need to properly introduce the concept, practices, and purpose to your employees. Everyone, vendors and partners included, should be made aware of the new ethics hotline and why it now exists. Explain how to use it, when it’s appropriate to use it, and what happens when someone initiates a call. Keep these definitions and explanations visible for all to see and reinforce policies with email and document reminders, as well.
Establishing Trust Among Your Teams
The most important aspect of implementing and establishing a successful ethics hotline involves the company’s ability to create trust in the process. Commit the extra time and effort to explain the confidentiality and anonymity that goes with the ethics hotline and reporting policy. Reinforce to everyone affected that the business is committed to improving workplace culture and safety in a way that also prohibits and removes risks of retaliation. The more your employees trust the protections an ethics hotline provides, the better chances of success that they’ll use it when they need to do so.
Keeping Your Reporting Options and Communication Open
Be prepared to carve out specifics for the purpose of your ethics hotline. For example, think practical about reporting options. Do you have a toll-free number to call only, or will you offer digital submissions channels, too? Can employees use this ethics hotline for whistleblowing, safety issues, and suggestion box type reporting? Your employees will adopt whatever methods you have available as long as they’re practical, helpful, and make sense. Take the time you need to develop the operational side of what will make your hotline implementation successful.
Develop a Transparent Investigation Process
If employees call your ethics hotline to report a concern, and nothing else happens, they might feel their issues fell on deaf ears. This is why it’s also critical that you provide clear and transparent outlines for what happens next after a report is filed. Of course, any allegations will undergo an investigation, but not all reporting employees will see those behind-the-scenes steps. So, create a roadmap of your follow-up and follow-through steps so those who do come forward to report violations know what to expect next.
Today’s workplaces need the added layer of reporting and compliance protection that the ethics hotline provides. But simply putting one in place may not inspire change and widespread adoption. So, consider these best practices and suggestions as you implement your ethics hotline. And if you need help or have more questions about setting up an ethics hotline, let us guide you!