Why HR Isn’t A Substitute For An Ethics Hotline

It’s a common misconception that having an HR department means you don’t need an ethics hotline. While it’s easy to think the two are interchangeable, the truth is you should have both.

HR is responsible for far more than just ethics issues. However, sometimes, there are issues employees don’t feel comfortable or safe talking about with HR. This is when a hotline is a necessity.

HR Isn’t Anonymous

No matter how much HR might like to keep an employee’s name private, they can’t always do that when it involves illegal ethical activity, such as sexual harassment. For an employee who’s embarrassed or is afraid of retaliation if they report something, going to HR simply isn’t an option for them.

Instead of letting the problem continue or a great employee leaving, an ethics hotline provides an alternative way to report serious ethics issues anonymously. Other employees can also file reports if they notice something going on. This provides victims privacy and protection while an issue is investigated.

HR Might Be Biased

For many ethical and career-related issues, HR is the perfect solution. However, HR is just like any other department in a business and prone to some of the same flaws, such as a being biased. For example, if an employee tries to report the HR manager’s best friend for committing fraud, HR might cover it up. This doesn’t leave any other recourse for the employee.

Instead, an ethics hotline provides a way to report an ethics issue to a team outside of HR, removing the bias. This helps keep HR and the company more ethical.

The Problem Is HR

Often, HR is seen as the epitome of ethical behavior. After all, that’s supposed to be the department employees turn to if something’s going wrong. But, what happens if HR is actually the problem? HR isn’t perfect. This department can also have ethical issues. Handling ethical issues within HR helps your employees feel safer coming to HR when there is a problem.

Hiring discrimination, harassment, blackmail, fraud and more are all issues employees might notice from HR employees. Obviously, reporting to HR means the issue is ignored and the employee might even be retaliated against. But, an ethics hotline sends the report to someone other than HR. This provides a chance for someone outside the department to investigate, resolving major issues and creating a better HR department.

HR Reports To Upper Management

Despite how powerful HR seems to be, the department still has to report to upper management like all other departments. If employees are dealing with major ethical problems the stem from upper management, HR might not be the best place to report the issues. After all, HR might feel obligated to pass the report on to the person or people causing the problem.

An ethics hotline helps keep the employee’s name out of the report. It also goes to a team that may share the findings not only with the accused but the company board. Reports of illegal activity can even be passed on to the appropriate entities, such as OSHA, for a more official investigation.

HR and an ethics hotline should co-exist to make every business more ethical overall.