How to Report a Workplace Incident

Organizations want to prevent ethics violations and you can help them. In fact, it is your duty as a loyal employee to report any incident you see. The reality is that some employees fear the process of “snitching” on their coworkers or, worse still, their boss. They don’t want to face repercussions like losing their job or being demoted. Not to mention, reporting something related to a team member can cause dissension among your team.

Here are a few suggestions on how to report an incident without starting a war.

Consult the Organization’s Standards of Business Conduct or Ethics Program Materials

Many organizations have developed ethics program materials that indicate acceptable business practices.  Reviewing these materials will help determine the degree of ethics transgression involved.  The ethics policy or standards of business conduct often cover conflict of interest, confidential information, gifting policies, harassment and discrimination, equitable hiring policies, a whistleblower policy and process, and much more.  These materials may provide a good roadmap to reporting ethics incidents.

Use Your Organization’s Anonymous Hotline

Many organizations have implemented an anonymous hotline that allows employees to safely report major incidents without fear of losing their job or work relationships. Whistleblower programs like these often use contracted third-party companies, such as Ethical Advocate, that run the hotline because this is best practice. You typically have the option to remain anonymous or to give your name and position.  You also may be able to communicate back and forth with the investigator for any questions they may have.

Speak With A Trusted Mentor

Some companies haven’t implemented formal whistleblower programs. This hurts the employees and places their livelihood at risk. In the event no whistleblower program or grievance options are available, select a close, trusted mentor to give you guidance. If possible, don’t select someone close to the alleged violator. And don’t provide specifics about the incident. Just seek guidance and counsel on what to do.

Be Direct And Brief

Whether you choose to take advantage of the whistleblower program, grievance options, or direct report, always be direct and brief. If you are making a direct report of the incident, tell the investigator or supervisor what happened. Don’t add opinions, rumor, or what you think they’re doing. Keep to the facts. It may help to write down the key points and details before meeting.

Setting high ethical standards for yourself and the company isn’t about making friends. You have a job to do and reporting transgressions is part of it.

Ethical Advocate helps businesses protect their company by providing hotline solutions and training. Learn more about how a whistleblower program can save your company money.