Overview – Whistleblower hotlines
Whistleblower hotlines are a communication tactic to identify and address behaviour or practices that may compromise the organisation’s values, standards, policies or procedures. They are a service employees access by dialling a standard telephone number and leaving an anonymous message.
Whistleblower hotlines provide a safe haven for employees who may be facing an ethical dilemma regarding the gradual erosion of values and standards. This applies to the full gamut of organisational practices, from financial management to occupational health and safety. Whistle-blower hotlines also provide an outlet for employees being pressured into unacceptable practices or behaviour by their bosses or peers. Whistleblower hotlines are often managed by the Chief Compliance Officer or a person with similar job responsibilities.
This tactic is useful for:
✓ Demonstrating the organisation’s commitment to listening to and acting on, employees’ concerns.
✓ Uncovering unacceptable behaviour or activities.
✓ Preventing erosion of the organisation’s values and standards that may eventually lead to serious misconduct, injury or worse.
✓ Ensuring the organisation’s moral compass continues to point in the right direction.
Things to consider:
⇒ Establish a telephone hotline where employees can leave a message confident in the knowledge that their identity is protected.
⇒ Appoint a person who has the authority to investigate issues raised via the whistle-blower hotline and take immediate action if required.
⇒ Appoint the CEO as the sponsor of the hotline to give it the necessary clout.
⇒ Encourage employees to pay attention to their instincts and use the whistleblower hotline if something doesn’t feel quite right.
⇒ Establish ‘Rules of Engagement’ to ensure the hotline is used for the purpose to which it is intended, and not for mischief-making nor point-scoring.
⇒ Promote the whistleblower hotline frequently in a variety of tactics, such as newsletters, notice boards and the intranet.
Communicate the outcomes of any actions taken in response to whistleblower hotline input in a manner that reinforces the organisation’s values and standards. This validates the organisation’s commitment to upholding its espoused values and standards through the actions it takes. It also gives assurance that due consideration is given in response to employee concerns and issues.