The best way to ensure your ethics hotline is effective is by making sure everyone knows how to use it. Ethics hotline training is critical to improving your company’s ethics and overall workplace culture.
However, you have to go beyond just how to access the hotline. A comprehensive training program should consider several major elements to make employees feel more comfortable using the hotline.
1. Using The Ethics Hotline
While this definitely shouldn’t be the only aspect of your ethics hotline training, it should be included. After all, employees need to know how to access the hotline, how to file reports and what to expect. If you have multiple ways to access the hotline, cover the process for each way.
During this part of the training, explain whether or not reports are kept anonymous. If so, explain how and how the process works if you need more information during the investigation period. The more employees know about how they’re kept safe, the more comfortable they’ll feel.
2. Explain The Investigation Process
Often, this part is left out during ethics hotline training. Not only does your ethics hotline team need to know how to investigate any reports, but your employees need to understand the process. First, they need to understand how long it may take. Second, they need to know how to follow up to see if their report is currently being investigated and the status. And finally, they’ll want to know what happens when an investigation is complete, especially if it’s ruled in their favor.
3. Cover Your Ethics Code
During the ethics hotline training, cover your business’s ethics code. You might have given new employees a copy of the code when you hired them, but who really looks through all of their new hire paperwork? Make sure employees understand what is and isn’t acceptable behavior. Go through common ethics issues and even mention less common ones.
During this portion of your training, detail what happens if anyone is found guilty of violating your ethics code. Will they be written up? Could they be fired? How are they investigated if they are reported?
4. Use Real Life Examples
It’s easy to just cover a list of ethical issues. But, you want your employees to fully understand when a violation occurs, not only to them, but to others. For instance, you might detail how employees could spot potential fraud or harassment. Be specific and empower your employees to better understand when an ethical violation occurs.
This helps you receive more valid reports on your hotline. Plus, your employees hold each other more accountable. Instead of just reporting something that happens only to them, they’ll report things they witness too. This helps immensely in situations where the victim may be too afraid to report something themselves.
5. Cover Retaliation
Everyone’s heard horror stories surrounding whistleblower retaliation. There are two things you need to cover in this part of your ethics hotline training.
First, explain how to recognize retaliation, how to report it and what happens to any employee that tries to retaliate against a whistleblower. Second, explain to everyone that all reports are investigated thoroughly and if action is taken, that’s the final say on the matter. This helps to reduce potential retaliation and make employees feel more confident in using your hotline.
As a final note, conduct mini-training sessions throughout the year to keep all of this information fresh in everyone’s minds.