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Why a Third-Party Ethics Hotline Encourages More Reporting

Why a Third-Party Ethics Hotline Encourages More Reporting

As a business owner, you want to build an organization where all your workers feel comfortable and safe. That’s why you invest in compliance training and team-building seminars, and why you take time to check in with employees when you pass them in the office.

But despite your best efforts, a lot can happen in the workplace when you’re not looking, and those incidents can turn your workplace into a hostile environment.

Obviously, you can’t be everywhere at once to prevent misconduct at work, but you can give your workers an option to alert the higher-ups when they experience inappropriate behavior. The best way to do this is with the ethics hotline – and here’s why:

They Provide Anonymity

When an employee experiences some form of misconduct, he or she may want to speak up; however, this may feel like a risky move to them – especially if the perpetrator is one of their superiors. The employee may worry about losing their job or getting a reputation for being “difficult to work with,” which could harm their career in the long run. Therefore, they keep quiet and the misconduct continues unabated.

A third-party ethics hotline can remove this hurdle by allowing employees to make reports anonymously. Hotline employees are not part of your organization (and therefore will have no allegiances to any co-workers), and the opportunity to leave an anonymous message gives employees a feeling of security.

They are Convenient

On any given day, your employees likely have a lot to do. They may not have time in their schedule to head over to HR and report misconduct they witnessed – and, if the incident was emotionally traumatic (e.g., sexual harassment or workplace violence), they may need time to process what happened before they can speak up.

Reporting hotlines are available 24/7, and your employees can easily reach them anywhere from their own phones. This extra level of convenience is so important, as it allows your employees to submit reports on their own time and when they feel most comfortable. When your workers know that there is always a resource available for them to report issues they’ve experienced, their mental health can improve tremendously.

They Offer Guidance from Trained Professionals

Your HR department is comprised of educated, compassionate professionals who want to resolve employee-employer disputes in an effective way; however, HR employees only know so much – and when an employee witnesses unethical behavior like discrimination, sexual misconduct, or assault, HR’s training might not always be sufficient enough to solve the problem.

Third-party hotlines are staffed with individuals who are trained in handling workers’ stress, frustration, and trauma after an incident. Talking with a hotline worker can help your employee resolve some lingering stress caused by their experience, helping them return to a healthy headspace much quicker.

They Provide Expediency

Most employees agree that the most frustrating things about reporting misconduct is the slow pace of employer follow up. For many, it feels like HR is simply filing their reports in a drawer and never glancing at them again! If your employees believe this is the case, they’re less likely to report – and they might develop resentment towards the company as a whole.

By contrast, third-party hotlines provide a level of expediency. When hotline specialists receive a report, they file it and forward it to the proper individuals in a timely manner. This helps your employees see that their efforts are not in vain, and that your organization truly does care for their safety and well-being.

They Encourage a Speak-Up Culture

All business owners want their companies to be ethical organizations, but a company’s culture depends on the people working there – and if some of your employees feel like they can get away with misconduct, they will continually behave unethically.

Third-party ethics hotlines keep employees accountable because they give workers a way to seek recourse after an incident. In this way, these hotlines actually encourage your workers to speak up when they see something wrong, which ultimately creates a corporate culture where everyone is behaving appropriately.


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by Rebecca Jones // Contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.