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How Whistleblower Hotlines Create Positive Workplace Cultures

How Whistleblower Hotlines Create Positive Workplace Cultures

Whistleblower Hotlines Improve Workplaces in Good Times and Bad

In the past, the term “whistleblower” formed a negative connotation. Whistleblowers were perceived as uncollaborative, weak, or unable to handle the work environment. Employees did not want to be whistleblowers, and employers did not want to deal with them.

Times have changed. Today, employees think reporting perceived workplace wrongdoing is their responsibility. A 2019 study revealed that 94% of Canadians believe it is their responsibility to speak up when they see wrongdoings in the workplace.

Employers, too, recognize the importance of whistleblowers in their organizational well-being. The same study revealed that 71% of employers think whistleblower hotlines are helpful and that they should be required.

Whistleblower hotlines benefit employees and employers in all environments, but they can be particularly useful tools during challenging times of uncertainty. The following are a few key company benefits of a third-party whistleblower provider.

Reduces Employee Stress

Knowing about wrongdoings in the workplace is stressful for employees. Employees must decide whether to tell someone, who to tell, how to tell them, and deal with fears, whether founded or not, of being retaliated against for reporting.

Then, of course, they have to continue to perform in their job. When this is added to an already challenging work environment, stress can cause a valued employee to burnout or decide to leave the company.

Providing a third-party-managed whistleblower hotline can greatly reduce the stress for employees. When the ethics hotline is communicated, it removes the decision-making stress by providing employees with a concrete, clear, and easy course of action. It also demonstrates to the employee that the employer welcomes information from whistleblowers and that the whistleblowers will not be penalized.

Cultivates Corporate Culture of Honesty

During tough times, companies are often dealing with issues related to employee morale, decreasing revenue, and avoiding loss of key personnel. Dishonesty in the workplace makes these issues worse; it disrupts employee performance, increases turnover, and hurts the bottom line.

That is why creating a corporate culture that values workplace honesty during tough times is crucial to smooth operations. An ethics hotline helps demonstrate that the employer is truly dedicated to a culture of honesty and doesn’t just use it as a buzzword for recruiting.

A hotline also provides employees with a way to be honest, even about difficult-to-discuss issues. Reporting over the hotline helps make honesty a habit for employees and encourages it in all workplace interactions.

Unparalleled Insight Into Workplace

Anyone who has ever been an employee knows that there is usually information that spreads through word of mouth that everyone seems to know, except for company managers. No matter how good their relationships, employees just don’t feel comfortable telling their supervisors certain things.

This can, and often does, lead to a disconnect between what is known by employees and what is known by company decision-makers. This can lead to a situation where supervisors don’t find out about important problems, such as embezzlement, sexual harassment, or discrimination until the issue has already blown up, and sometimes, even until it becomes public.

An ethics hotline can bridge the gap in information within a company and provide unparalleled insight into what is really going on in the organization. Employees simply feel more comfortable reporting in privacy to third parties, so they are more likely to report issues early, when it may still be possible to find a relatively quick and easy resolution.

Increases Connectedness

Challenging circumstances, whether caused by internal factors such as a change in company leadership, or external factors like an economic downturn, can negatively impact employees' productivity and loyalty. Employees may feel checked-out and disconnected. Increasing employees’ sense of belonging and connectedness to the organization decreases these issues, and hotlines can help with that.

Hotlines establish an increased connection between employees and their company because they give employees a voice and a say in what is going on. Employees who see the positive changes resulting from a report they file will feel a sense of authority and agency in driving the success of their workplace. Instating a whistleblower hotline highlights a company's commitment to the safety and security of its employees. Even when what is reported turns out to be a misunderstanding or non-issue, employees are still more connected to the company because they feel heard and empowered to express themselves.

>> Download an eBook that highlights benefits of implementing a whistleblower hotline.

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photo Amanda Nieweler
About the Author
Amanda writes for WhistleBlower Security about ethics, compliance, workplace culture, and whistleblower hotlines. Amanda brings her nearly two decades of risk and compliance experience to the WBS blog where she is dedicated to helping people and companies promote speak-up cultures.