Implementing an ethics hotline for your business is just the first step. You then need to audit your ethics hotline from time to time for effectiveness.
In order for your hotline to benefit your employees, customers and your overall business, it has to work. A simple audit on a regular basis helps you uncover problem areas and make your hotline far more effective for everyone.
Examine Policies And Procedures
The first step to audit your ethics hotline is to examine your current policies and procedures. A few things to look for include:
· Do employees know what type of incidents to report?
· Do employees even know there is a hotline or how to use it?
· What is the step-by-step process for reviewing reports?
· How are whistleblowers kept anonymous?
· What do you do if you need more information?
· What’s the timeline for an investigation?
· How are proven problems handled discreetly?
If your policies and procedures can’t answer these questions, it’s time to sit down and create a more clear version. Make everything easy to understand. Instead of trying for legalese, use clearer language.
Examine Ethics Training
Both your ethics hotline team and your employees need to be trained thoroughly. After all, you want your team to be able to handle ethics reports as quickly and effectively as possible. You also want your employees to use the hotline correctly and not just for reporting every minor complaint, such as the office temperature being too cool or hot.
What type of training is currently in place? If you asked random employees about what they should report and why, could they answer you? Simply asking random questions about the process is a great way to audit your ethics hotline for effectiveness.
It’s easy to get caught up in daily business administration tasks and not give the ethics hotline the attention it deserves. However, the hotline has the power to drastically improve a business.
Examine whether there are dedicated administrators for the hotline. Also, take a look at their training. Do they know the proper investigative procedures? Do they have the time available to complete investigations and take action when necessary?
The right manager helps improve your ethics hotline process. It can also help prevent any bias from the team. The manager can also keep an eye out for any retaliation issues as well.
Test The Process
The ultimate test when you audit your ethics hotline is trying out the system for yourself. Set up a fake scenario.
Then, file an anonymous report. Ensure that the hotline is easy to access and use. Then, time how long it takes for investigators to access the report and start to take action. If nothing’s ever done or it takes far longer than it should, there is an obvious problem that you need to address.
It’s a good idea to audit your ethics hotline regularly. This could be yearly or even every few years if everything seems to be running smoothly. You might be surprised to find all the ways you can improve.