How to Take Care of Your Whistleblowers

How to Take Care of Your Whistleblowers

Third party ethics hotlines promote a safe workplace culture

One of the best ways to minimize internal risk is to create an environment where employees feel like they are able to come forward and report wrongdoing, without being punished.

Employees who report internally are truly doing their companies a favour because when ethical violations are brought forward, the company has a chance to do something about it and fix a potential issue before it it has a chance to do any damage.

But if you want to encourage employees to report, they need to know they are safe when they do so.

  • Don't retaliate
  • Multiple options to report
  • Encouragement from leadership

Non-retaliation increases reporting because employees feel it is safe to report what they see. Also, if employees feel safe to report misconduct without fear of retaliation, then that alone can reduce future misconduct and organizational risk.

It is important that management and leadership promote a safe speak up environment to allow employees the safety to blow the whistle. Multiple access points where employees can file a whistleblower complaint helps to build an internal workplace speak-up culture.

Multiple avenues to report gives employees a choice in how they report.

A National Business Ethics Survey found that most employees will report wrongdoing if their company has an effective compliance and ethics program.

Stronger ethical culture, and the effectiveness of a company's ethics and compliance program are closely tied to workplace behaviour. A strong ethical culture will enable more reporting of violations that are observed, and will also decrease the pressure to weaken ethical standards.

Retaliation also decreases dramatically for those reporting employees working in organizations with effective ethics and compliance programs promoting a speak up culture.

Also, an organization’s leadership is so very important. The significance of compliance and how important it is must be relayed company-wide as a message directly from the top if it’s to be effective and believed.

Another way to keep your whistleblowers feeling a little bit safer is by partnering with a third-party provider. Compared with a reporting program operated by the employer, employees may feel a third-party program offers a little more trust in that they are truly anonymous when they blow the whistle.

Third-party ethics hotline providers offer more experience when managing sensitive whistleblower calls. Also, they provide a secure database offering robust reporting and information to allow management to dive deep into a company's internal workplace culture.

An interesting field experiment by the Santa Clara University showed that employees blow the whistle externally when they believe the company won't listen to them and they believe outsiders will fix the problem.

However, employees will blow the whistle internally if they believe their company will fix a problem even if management won't listen.

Ethics and compliance starts at the top, and whistleblowers need to be certain they won't face retaliation.

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photo Amanda Nieweler

Amanda Nieweler

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.