Encouraging a culture of ethics in your organization is one of the foundations of modern business. By implementing a whistleblower hotline, you provide the opportunity to your staff cohort to ensure that your Code of Conduct is followed and that unethical behavior, improper conduct, and criminal behavior are identified. An ethical workplace culture is not just what employees expect, it is also what the wider community expects.
The problem is that some organizations go to great lengths to implement a whistleblower hotline, but then simply allow it to fade away into the background. In this scenario, business leaders simply assume that implementing a hotline is the only thing that needs to happen and that success will follow. So, how can you ensure that the launch of your whistleblower program is an ongoing success?
Making people aware
Even if some people understand what the whistleblower program is all about and why it’s important, this doesn’t mean that everyone is on board. It’s important that everyone in the organization can buy into an ethics program of this nature. Thus, one of the most important aspects of a launch should be education and promotion.
It is unwise to assume that everyone understands the importance of such a program. Therefore, it’s a good idea to make people aware. Well in advance of the launch of the program, there should be transparent communication about it. It should not only be the subject of multiple company-wide emails, but should also be a subject around the water-cooler. This means that the message needs to come from the top and trickle down to individual managers.
Provide free training sessions
Once there is a good level of buy-in from staff members, there should be the opportunity to attend special education sessions. These sessions should include the following:
- Why it’s important to nurture an ethical work culture and how a whistleblower program enables this
- Why it’s important to have a Code of Conduct and how to identify breaches of this code
- How to use the whistleblower hotline to report improper conduct, potential criminal conduct, and ethical breaches
- What happens after a report has been made through the hotline
- A reinforcement that any reporting through the hotline will be anonymous and will not incur retaliation from the company
Have an awareness of metrics and milestones
It’s a big deal to implement a whistleblower program in any organization and requires a great deal of well thought out planning. It can sometimes become overwhelming when rolling-out such a large and crucial program, but the best advice is to break it down and focus on what can be controlled.
Here are some key metrics that will influence how the launch is received and how successful it is going forward:
- Set a date for the official launch of the program,
- Set dates for training staff members and business leaders in what the whistleblower program is all about and how to access and use it effectively,
- Gather feedback from staff members on their experience of the education and awareness program and whether it can be improved before the official launch.
In many ways, setting up a feedback loop between staff members and business leaders about an impending ethics program launch is incredibly important. It not only provides transparent two-way communication, but also provides insight into how the launch might be improved.
The work has only just started
Ultimately, a whistleblower program is about nurturing an ethical environment and any launch must reinforce the nature of this and why it’s so important. Once people understand, they are more likely to accept it and access it. But just remember this: a successful launch is not an automatic recipe for success. Once launched, the program requires ongoing reinforcement and attention.