Whistleblowers play a very important and needed role in society and the industries they are blowing the whistle against.
But sometimes, the very act of blowing the whistle may bring retaliation or other negative effects to the whistleblower.
There's a natural human emotion that drives most people to speak up about wrongdoing. Many are driven by frustration or moral outrage about the wrongs they are witnessing.
So they choose to come forward because they know it's the right thing to do. Whistleblowers are an absolutely essential ingredient in the fight against fraud, waste, abuse, and unethical conduct.
And many companies are lucky to have systems in place that encourage whistleblowers to come forward in an anonymous fashion.
On the other side of the equation is the person who is receiving the complaint. Usually in a specialized 'call centre' specifically trained in how to receive and handle sensitive matters being delivered by scared people.
They too play a very crucial role in the whistleblowing process. How they communicate with the whistleblower, and direct and guide them through the process of delivering their reported instances of wrongdoing, plays a role in how, and if, future whistleblowers come forward.
For the most part, whistleblowers are employees of a company, specifically speaking up about their department they work in. So for a person to come forward to report something negative about their co-workers, this can be a very stressful event. And for many, after doing so, their lives may never be the same after.
That's why it's important that the person on the receiving end of the complaint delivers kindness and empathy back to the reporting employee.
Many companies partner with a third-party whistleblower hotline reporting service. The hotline part of the service is operated by dedicated call centre intake agents who are trained in empathetic and investigative techniques, designed to elicit good quality and thorough information from the whistleblower about their concern. At the same time, it's important they ensure the whistleblower feels as comfortable and safe as possible during the call.
During the course of a call, the call centre agent is responsible for gathering as much information as possible (including location, the date and time of the call, the subject of the incident, the nature of the incident, and the substance of the incident - the facts, data, details, examples, and witnesses etc.).
This information is crucial to a company because with it the company has as much information as possible to investigate a situation currently playing out and put a stop to it before it does serious damage.
Whether a call takes 10 minutes or 45 minutes, a contact centre agent’s primary focus is creating a professional, courteous, and comfortable environment for the whistleblower.
For the whistleblowing process to be truly effective, it's important that the whistleblower feels that during their call, their message matters, no judgement is passed down, and that there isn't a time limit on explaining a situation that is really hard to talk about.
Nothing kills a successful whistleblowing report more than when an employee feels that what they have to say isn't important enough to be heard.