When You Can't Report Misconduct to Your Manager, Report It Anonymously

It's not easy speaking-up directly with a manager

Sometimes employees might feel uncertain or hesitant about talking to their manager about wrongdoing, especially if it involves another co-worker. That's not any negative response directed to managers. Even the most 'open-door-policy' promoting managers and companies will have employees who just don't feel comfortable voicing sensitive information face to face. Yet this is still important information that needs to be shared. That's why providing other options for employees to speak-up anonymously will ensure that no important detail gets left behind or undiscovered.

What is a Whistleblower?

Whistleblowers are those individuals who care about how negative, illegal, or unsafe activity affects their employer, and co-workers. They care about doing their part to ensure that misconduct becomes top of mind, and that it is dealt with. They care about doing the right thing - speak-up about it.

Companies benefit greatly from whistleblower reports, which frequently reduce waste, expose theft and bring unethical situations and practices to an employer’s attention. In addition to preventing revenue loss, stopping abusive behaviour, or exposing safety issues, the whistleblower reporting process can also preemptively save a company’s reputation. By discovering and addressing serious issues through anonymous whistleblower reports, a company avoids potentially embarrassing discoveries by clients, the press or other third parties.

How Does the Whistleblower Reporting Process Work?

Identify the misconduct - a whistleblower will have become aware of misconduct happening in the company and will make the decision to speak-up about it because they know that the longer that misconduct is left unchecked, the more damage it will cause.

Choose the right reporting channel - typically whistleblowers will choose to either dial a toll-free hotline and have a trained agent help them with their report, or they will choose to file the report themselves via an online reporting questionnaire. Either way, when using a third party provider, the questionnaire used is the same and complete anonymity is available.

Case management - systems that provide the ability to contain all reported concerns in a centralized database provide the benefit of enabling management to monitor and maintain reports, dialogue with the whistleblower, run statistical analysis, and maintain an audit trail of all activity that took place, which is essential to providing an audit proof.

Whistleblowing Builds a Stronger Culture

A strong (and believable) workplace culture is no longer a 'nice to have', but rather it is now a must have. Creating the foundation for a strong cultural structure will help cement that achievable workplace environment that employees want to work in, and leaders can be proud of.

In every level of the Results Pyramid - Experiences, Beliefs, Actions, and Results - each section helps support the success of the next section. Personal and workplace experiences help shape beliefs. The beliefs employees have will determine what actions will be taken, which in turn will determine end results. If businesses want to improve desired outcomes, leaders need to direct their focus to building and maintaining that strong workplace culture that employees believe in. One way to do this is by promoting anonymous whistleblowing.

Another way to build a strong culture is to act quickly when a whistleblower report does come in. Whether the whistleblower has chosen to remain anonymous or not, by responding and acknowledging the complaint quickly shows that the organization is serious about the effort the employee has taken.

Importance of Anonymous Whistleblower Reports

Providing an anonymous option to voice concerns can help in creating a stronger workplace culture. A third party whistleblower hotline provides companies with a higher level of anonymity than other communication methods. It can help a scared employee feel safer when speaking up about sensitive issues. One fear of speaking up is retaliation. Third party platforms remove any meta data and delete IP addresses and location information providing a truly anonymous experience.

A recent study showed that anonymous whistleblower hotline adoption is on the rise - meaning more companies are turning to third party providers and their expertise to provide the tools needed to help create better whistleblower experiences. These companies are realizing that the better workplace environment involves providing more options for reporting wrongdoing. They are recognizing that they don't want to isolate employees who don't feel comfortable walking through an office door to talk about misconduct. Ultimately it's about knowing there's unethical activity happening, receiving that information via the methods that employees feel the safest, and then doing something about it to make sure it doesn't damage the organization any further.

A well working hotline will allow employees to anonymously come forward with anything they wish to report or suggest. That same employee who wishes to remain anonymous while reporting internal fraud committed by their co-worker, may also be the same employee who's too shy to come forward and suggest a new company value they think should be adopted. Give them the tools to do so anonymously.

Contact us and let's have a chat!
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.