Keep Ethics Hotline Awareness High

Your ethics program is an investment, one you’ve made to improve your organization’s ability to meet its objectives.  The ethics hotline is an important component of your overall ethics program. You’ll receive a good return on your hotline investment if employees use it to report suspected wrongdoing.

Employees will use the hotline if they believe their management has a long-term commitment to ethical behavior, if they’re aware of the ethics hotline, and if it’s easy for them to make the call.  How can you ensure that?

Advertisers recognize that when a product or program is first publicized, people will use it for a while but will then forget about it.  They know that they must “communicate, communicate, and communicate again” to keep awareness and use high. Both statements are true for employee use of ethics hotlines.

Your hotline communications effort, therefore, will be most effective if it incorporates regularly scheduled mass-communication methods and a variety of supporting methods to serve as constant reminders.

Mass-communication efforts serve to support the organization’s commitment to ethical behavior and to promote use of the ethics hotline or other employee hotlines.

Examples include:

– Company-wide meetings and email distributions

– Modules in new employee orientation training sessions

– Language in the company’s code of conduct

– Banner ads on the company intranet

Supporting communications are smaller, more tailored, and more frequent than mass-communication efforts.  These supporting methods help to keep awareness high and to reinforce the perception that you want to know about illegal or unethical activities.  They also help make it easy for employees to make the call, as long as you prominently display hotline contact information.

Examples include:

– Articles in the company newsletter

– Brochures

– Posters displayed in high visibility locations (and changed periodically)

– Table tent cards in the cafeteria and break rooms

Small items that can easily be taken home also serve as supporting communication tools, and can help encourage employees to call the hotline from home if they are not comfortable doing so in the workplace.

Examples include:

– “Giveaways” – pens, magnets, post-it notes, etc.

– Wallet cards containing instructions as well as hotline contact information

You invested in an ethics hotline through Ethical Advocate or other third-party provider to comply with the law and to offer your employees an option for reporting suspected wrongdoing.  You want them to use it.  By developing an ongoing communications plan that incorporates mass-communication methods and several supporting methods you’ll keep ethics hotline awareness high and boost the return on your investment.