Over the past 20 years, corporations have been embarrassed by fraudulent behavior, sexual harassment allegations, and other major ethical violations. Many of these situations could have been prevented by ethic hotlines. Giving employees a chance to tell you about problems before they get out of control will help you recapture safety and security. But those programs must take into account the fears each employee has about reporting violations.
Here are a few reasons why employees fear even anonymous reporting.
No Third-Party Organization
Organizations that coordinate their ethics reporting system through a third party are more likely to have higher success rates. Third-party ethics hotline providers offer more anonymity and unbiased reporting. Employees trust them because they know the information will remain anonymous. Companies should choose providers trained in whistleblower strategies, know how to communicate, understand relevant laws and protocols, and are committed to protecting the employee and company.
Requires Follow-Up Investigation
All substantial reports should be investigated. Administrators need to be careful not to scare off the reporter. Programs that require reporters to be available for follow ups can be daunting for some team members. While it is reasonable to request some information, consider a plan that meets the needs of both parties.
Third-party ethics hotlines are a good resource. They not only field complaints but can notify administrators if investigations are not advancing. Employees will trust a third-party to keep their identity anonymous. Another option growing in popularity reporting via an online reporting system. Employees can file a complaint through a third-party online. They can follow-up on any updates or requests for more information.
Potential Court Cases
One of the largest concerns employees have about reporting ethics violations is potential court proceedings. They know if investigations lead to criminal or civil reports it will require public testimony. Whistleblowers don’t want to anonymously report violations to their company just to receive a subpoena to testify.
While there are no easy answers to this problem, companies should include a policy preventing retribution in these cases. Assure staff that they are the most important asset and the company will protect them from harm.
Fear Of Retribution
Fear of retribution is the cornerstone for all whistleblower fears. They don’t want to lose their jobs, cut off communication with friends, or be ostracized at work. They also fear ruining their reputation and losing potential future jobs. Setting a policy that recognizes these fears and helps employees understand their rights is the first step. Ethics experts can help you navigate through these additions and ensure your employees are protected.
Ethical Advocate helps organizations protect their operation by providing hotline solutions and training. Learn more about how a whistleblower program can save your company money.