There are currently more whistleblower protections than ever before in the United States, making it absolutely necessary for public agencies and private companies to have processes in place for whistleblowers to make their reports. One such avenue is a phone hotline, which can help to quickly pinpoint organizational misconduct and be a starting point for investigations. They also are an effective tool to gauge the ethics and compliance standards of an organization.
The following are a few best practices for businesses establishing or evaluating a whistleblower reporting hotline:
- Commit to ethics: Employees are not going to buy in and blow the whistle on unethical activity if organizations do not commit to establishing an ethical work environment. Businesses should clearly communicate their values and reward ethical behavior at every opportunity. Whistleblowers should know they are protected should they choose to speak up.
- Make it easy to come forward: Hotline reports do not just have to be via telephone. Be sure to provide multiple channels so that employees may choose the method with which they are most comfortable. This includes email and in-person communication, as well.
- Have a plan: Companies must have detailed dissemination and escalation plans in place if they are to ensure that all reports are addressed as efficiently as possible. Certain topics or issues should be priority, instant-escalation issues — versus others that could wait until the next business day to be handled. Examples of instant-escalation issues would include any threat of physical harm, major security breaches or threats of interrupting business practices.
- Consider third-party hotlines: Although internally staffed hotlines may be an option, employees may not feel entirely comfortable reporting some issues internally. A third-party hotline ensures objectivity and anonymity for whistleblowers who are concerned about backlash. Additionally, staff at these hotlines are guaranteed to be trained on how to get all of the most important information needed to proceed with the report.
To learn more about putting efficient and effective whistleblower hotlines in place, speak with a skilled Dallas attorney at Whistleblower Law for Managers.