Whistleblowing is a heroic action, even if whistleblowers don’t always get the respect they deserve. That’s why a whistleblower hotline is so important. It gives these heroic individuals a better way to step forward and be heard.
With so many misconceptions about whistleblowing, it’s important to know exactly what a whistleblower hotline is and how it benefits employees, customers and businesses.
Benefits Of A Whistleblower Hotline
Despite how it might seem, a whistleblower hotline isn’t designed to hurt a business. Instead, you get benefits such as:
· Cost-savings – Lawsuits, training (when replacing employees who quit due to ethics issues), fraud and compliance violations can be prevented, saving money
· More positive company culture – Employees are happier and you attract better talent
· Improve business image – Customers prefer to work with more ethical companies
Naturally, these hotlines also help employees and customers. An ethical business doesn’t cut corners, which means better products and services. Employees feel safer and know they don’t have to put up with ethical problems, such as harassment or discrimination.
What Is A Whistleblower Hotline?
By definition, a whistleblower hotline is a service enabling employees and suppliers to report unethical and unlawful behavior in the workplace. This includes a wide variety of unethical behavior, such as fraud, malpractice and harassment.
Based on the name, it’s easy to think of it as just a phone-based service, but modern whistleblower hotlines offer more options. Online whistleblower hotlines are systems that allow online incident reports. Just like phone-based systems, these can either have names attached or be anonymous.
Hotlines do require an investigative team. The team takes each incident and conducts an investigation before making a final judgment. At this point, any appropriate action will be taken.
Ideally, reports come in to a third-party system to prevent any employees from recognizing anyone’s voice. The reports are then given to your internal team to handle.
Getting Employees Onboard
In order for a whistleblower hotline to be effective, employees have to use it. The first step is to create an ethics reporting policy that details what the hotline is for, how to use it and how issues are investigated and handled. Most importantly, ensure employees that they are safe when using the hotline and that no one will be allowed to retaliate against them.
Your hotline should be available outside of office hours. This gives employees the ability to report issues off-site so no one overhears them. If possible, offer anonymous reporting to further protect whistleblowers and prevent retaliation.
If retaliation is tolerated, employees won’t continue using the hotline. Instead, they may simply quit. This costs your business more money, especially since you’ll eventually have to deal with the cost of the ethics issue itself. It’s always better to encourage ethics in your company.