Encouraging Internal Whistleblowing

How to Encourage Internal Whistleblowing & Issue Reporting Amongst Employees?

“Internal Whistleblowing” in the business world refers to an employee who reports his or her colleague for unethical conduct. The behavior in question could be harassment, theft, negligence, or any other form of misconduct, but the ultimate effect is the same: damage to your business and your company’s reputation.

If you’re running a business today, embracing a “whistleblowing culture” might be one of the best ways to protect your business and promote employee satisfaction. Today, let’s discuss the importance of whistleblowing and how you can encourage this behavior in your office.

Why Whistleblowing is Important

First and foremost, whistleblowing makes good business sense. A 2017 report from CNBC found that workplace crime costs businesses around $50 billion annually, and figure that could be reduced if employees spoke out about what they see.

And in an ironic twist, a whistleblowing culture can actually prevent workplace crime from occurring at all. If employees know that their colleagues might report their misdeeds, they are less likely to take the risk of committing them. In this way, encouraging whistleblowing can be the best way to stop unethical behavior.

Tips to Encourage Whistleblowing

If you create a working environment that values ethics and sees the necessity of whistleblowing, your business is sure to be a more compliant place. Especially when you incorporate a compliance monitoring system. But how can you encourage whistleblowing? Here are a few tips:

Cultivate a Whistleblowing Culture

Every business owner knows that corporate leadership comes from the top. If you want to cultivate a culture that values ethics and sees the importance of whistleblowing, you need to model that behavior within your organization. Keep an open-door policy for workers to voice their concerns. Make sure that senior managers understand that ethics are a priority – and make sure that they agree.

Establish Clear Reporting Procedures

Many organizations today have “whistleblowing policies” – established rules and regulations for employees who want to raise concerns about someone or something within the company. These policies are vital for creating a whistleblowing culture in your business, as they speak to the value of whistleblowing and show employees how important it is.

But of course, simply creating these policies will not be enough to encourage whistleblowing in your company; you must also make sure that these policies are easy to understand and easy to find. Post signage around the office listing the whistleblowing procedure. Make sure everyone can access the phone number for your reporting hotline. This will keep the reporting policy top of mind for most employees, which will help you catch misconduct even more quickly.

Train your Staff Appropriately

Even if your employees know that the company has policies in place for reporting misconduct, it might not be enough to establish a whistleblowing culture. You also need to give your workers the appropriate training on when and how to report misconduct.

Training around whistleblowing should cover four key topics: what behavior constitutes misconduct (using clear and specific examples to avoid confusion), how employees can raise a concern, how the company will protect the whistleblower, and how the company will deal with the report. If you cover this information during employee training, you will ensure that everyone understands what to do if they witness misconduct – and they’ll understand what’s expected of them.

Prevent Retaliation

In 2018, the U.S. Ethics and Compliance Institute surveyed workers regarding how they felt about ethics in their workplaces. While there were some promising statistics (like the fact that only 47% of workers reported witnessing misconduct, down from 57% four years before) one stat was particularly troublesome: retaliatory acts against whistleblowers had doubled from the previous survey, reaching a harrowing 44%.

If you want your employees to come forward when they witness wrongdoing, they must know that they will not suffer consequences for speaking out. You can give them this assurance by fostering a whistleblowing culture, but also by providing them with ways to report anonymously (for example, by setting up an anonymous ethics hotline). This little bit of privacy can make a world of difference for the whistleblower who wants to do the right thing but is worried about his or her job.

Author Bio:

Giovanni Gallo is the Co-CEO of ComplianceLine, where his team strives to make the world a better workplace with compliance hotline services, sanction, and license monitoring, and workforce eLearning software and services.

Growing up as the son of a Cuban refugee in an entrepreneurial family taught Gio how servanthood and deep care for employees can make a thriving business a platform for positive change in the world. He built on that through experience with startups and multinational organizations so Compliance Line’s solutions can empower caring leaders to build strong cultures for the betterment of every employee and their community.

When he’s not working, Gio’s wrangling his four young kids, riding his motorcycle, and supporting education, families, and the homeless in the Charlotte community.

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