How Do You Turn a Hotline Cold

Don’t tell anyone about the hotline or only tell them about it once a year. While there are many ways to communicate to employees that an anonymous hotline is available, some organizations only use a handful of methods to get the word out and some don’t take advantage of any communication tools at all.

Imagine opening a new restaurant, but not having a sign in front or on the building, not having any advertising, and not telling anyone about it. Better yet, what if you made the entrance obscure, with no obvious way to enter the establishment? Would there by many people coming in for dinner? Of course not…

The same applies to having a hotline. If you don’t know about it or don’t know how to access it, it’s not going to be used. The organizations that get the biggest return on their investment are those that take advantage of all opportunities to communicate about the hotline including publicizing it in posters, press releases, on-going management communications, ethics and business controls policies, on the organization internet, in ethics trainings, and in supplier purchase orders.

Don’t investigate the incidents. This reduces the effectiveness of the hotline, as anonymous reporters learn that nothing will come of their effort. There is a dark downside to this, too, in that it can also lead to increased monetary penalties in a harassment or discrimination lawsuit.

Provide coverage during only a portion of the day, only have a voicemail box, and only provide English for a multilingual audience. Those who are most concerned about being anonymous or who don’t speak English (in the US, 32 million people speak Spanish) are far less likely to report under these circumstances. Plus, an anonymous voicemail gives an investigator no way to follow-up with questions.

If on the other hand, your organization wants to reduce fraud and address other critical concerns such as discrimination, harassment, safety, etc., a 24 x 7 multilingual hotline with case management and reporting, ethics communications, programs, and trainings, such as those provided by Ethical Advocate should be implemented… AND communicated.