Beyond Hotline Awareness

Almost every organization initiates an annual awareness campaign to remind employees of its ethics hotline and other aspects of its ethics policy and procedures. It’s important to keep ethics hotline awareness high. Most organizations recognize the importance of incorporating various communications approaches throughout the year in order to boost awareness—company-wide messages, banner ads on the intranet, brochures, posters, “giveaways”, and more.

Consider the benefit, however, of going beyond an awareness campaign to deliver specific, actionable training on what the hotline is, why it exists, how to use it, and what to use if for. More, provide this training using a blended learning approach.

Blended learning is a training strategy that recognizes that people have different learning styles and will learn most effectively when information is presented in a way that matches their optimal learning style. More than that, a blended learning strategy also incorporates a mix of formal and informal approaches and uses synchronous (real-time) and asynchronous (time-indifferent) options.

Synchronous options include such approaches as traditional classrooms, virtual classrooms, live practice (role-play), interactive chats, and mentoring or coaching. Asynchronous options include such approaches as computer-based training, surveys, tests, simulations, recorded events, and documents or web pages containing useful information. (Woodall, 2012). It’s important for organizations to use more than one or even two approaches. Using a number of different approaches will improve the likelihood that all employees clearly understand the message that is being delivered, increasing both awareness and learning.

Awareness is essential. Employees need to be aware that a hotline exists and they need to be able to quickly find the telephone number or web address when they have something to report. But a deliberate training strategy can deliver much more. A suitable mix of in-person or online training modules (they don’t need to be long) supplemented with some of the other approaches listed above will give employees plenty of opportunity to get comfortable with how and in what circumstances to use the ethics hotline, what kind of information to provide, and what to expect as the process moves forward. With training, organizations can also address related issues. For example, in-person discussions or online exercises can help employees learn to balance their natural desire to do what’s right for another employee and their desire to do what’s right for the larger group.

By using a variety of approaches to present related information throughout the year as part of an ongoing training campaign, organizations can move employees beyond awareness to comfort, trust, and appropriate use of the ethics hotline.

Ethical Advocate provides ethics training and confidential, secure, and anonymous whistleblower hotline incident reporting via phone and web. Contact us to learn more.


Woodall, Dorman. Blended Learning Strategies: Selecting the Best Instructional Method. Skillsoft, May 2012.