The Power of Hotlines: How Ethico’s Solutions Empower Employees to Speak Up

May 22, 2024

Simply put, an ethics hotline (or a whistleblowing solution) is a form of reporting channel that helps employees anonymously report unethical and unlawful behavior in the workplace. 

Why do successful businesses actively include anonymous hotlines in their internal structure? The answer lies in the tool’s ability to help build a culture of integrity, accountability, and transparency. 

Whistleblower hotlines protect the anonymity of those who report workplace risks like theft, discrimination, sexual harassment, and fraud. However, with an average of 2,873 cases of retaliation in the U.S. per year, it’s far from easy for an employee to speak up. 

You can only uncover unlawful and unethical activities if your employees feel that doing the right thing doesn’t put their career or life at risk. By protecting whistleblowers from retaliation, anonymous hotlines create a safe space for people to speak up. 

Ethico’s Anonymous Hotline = Strong Speak Up Culture

A whistleblower hotline is the simplest yet most effective solution to mitigate workplace misconduct. Whistleblowers can uncover more than twice the amount of fraud than professional auditors would. In reality, this becomes possible only if your business has a strong anonymous hotline system. Here’s why whistleblower hotlines lead to better organizational culture, improved transparency and accountability, and higher productivity:

Helps Address Issues Early

A whistleblowing hotline helps detect ethical lapses early. This prevents potential escalations that can be damaging to the company. 

Fosters Accountability

The presence of anonymous hotlines sends a powerful message to the entire organization that ethics, accountability, honesty, and transparency are core values. When leaders support and protect those who speak up, other employees feel encouraged to do the right thing too!

Protect stakeholders. When employees blow the whistle on wrongdoings, they protect the interest of all stakeholders including their co-workers, customers, shareholders, and the society at large. 

Boosts Compliance Measures

Whistleblowing helps uncover unlawful activities that may have serious financial and legal implications. Proactive whistleblowing helps companies identify areas of non-compliance and foster a culture of ethics. 

Creates an Ethical Culture

Sometimes, employees don’t speak up simply because they feel nothing will be done to tackle their concerns. For instance, an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) survey reveals that 28% of sexual harassment victims never report the incident. Stats like these show how inaction on ethical matters can damage a workplace culture. By implementing a solid whistleblower hotline and promptly investigating reports, companies can demonstrate their commitment to doing what’s right and create a culture of truth, and honesty. 

Gains Employees’ Trust

The presence of a whistleblower hotline serves as proof that you truly care about the well-being of your employees. When employees feel heard and cared for, they become more proactive in helping you mitigate misconduct. 

Implementing Ethico’s Ethics Hotline

An ethics hotline makes it possible to maintain awareness of unethical conduct in the workplace. By reporting concerns in a safe and anonymous environment, employees contribute to a lasting culture of compliance. Some of the many issues that can be reported via the hotline include:

  • Fraud or theft 
  • Discrimination or harassment 
  • Accounting or financial irregularities 
  • Violations of company policies and procedures 
  • Workplace safety concerns

When you set up Ethico’s suite of hotline, online, in-office, and mobile reporting options, you open your communication gates for employees to report their concerns with zero fear of retaliation. 

This 24/7 anonymous hotline is 100% quality controlled. A live operator trained in modern empathetic conversation and interviewing techniques sits on the other side of the phone, creating a safe space for your employee to talk without hesitation. 

Every single call and report via Ethico’s anonymous reporting channels gets delivered to the appropriate party in under two hours so you can take quick steps to mitigate risks and resolve issues. 

Remember though, simply implementing an ethics online is not enough. To truly bring ethical lapses to light, it’s important to educate your people on its use and assure them that they’d be protected from retaliation. 

Protecting Your Whistleblowers 

Whistleblower protection is one of the main highlights of an anonymous hotline. To take your whistleblower culture up a notch, consider creating a whistleblower policy by thinking about questions like:

  • What’s the goal of your whistleblower program? This could include encouraging reporting, ensuring prompt investigation, and protecting anonymity.
  • What types of misconduct can be reported?
  • What’s your role as an organization? Here, you can demonstrate your commitment to mitigating misconduct and retaliation and fostering transparency and honesty. 
  • How exactly can your employees report? How does your whistleblower system make it easy for people to speak up?
  • What happens once a complaint is filed? 

Building a Speak Up Culture 

Aside from deploying the right reporting tools, building a speak-up culture demands the following things:

Setting the Tone at the Top 

Senior leaders must openly demonstrate their commitment to encouraging whistleblowing and model the behavior they expect their teams to have. 

Publicize Your Commitment to Ethics

Creating a culture of honesty and openness requires regular discussions surrounding ethical behavior. Use your newsletters, speeches, and memos to highlight your values. Publicly reward people who address ethical concerns in the workplace. 

Take Quick Action

Simply receiving whistleblower reports is not enough. Once you receive a complaint, be quick with conducting an unbiased investigation, keep the complainant posted about the progress of the investigation, and take appropriate steps to ensure similar behavior doesn’t get repeated. 

Study the Numbers

Ask yourself: Which types of wrongdoings are a common occurrence? How long does an investigation take to resolve? What impact does ethics training have on mitigating misconduct? What can be done differently to improve outcomes? 

Empower Your People to Do the Right Thing 

Creating a culture of integrity and ethics starts with making it easy for your people to do the right thing. This journey begins with implementing a whistleblower hotline and other anonymous reporting channels. Retaliation shouldn’t be the outcome of calling out bad behavior. 

Train your people to use anonymous reporting resources. Let them know you care about their well-being. Take quick action once a report lands in your system. Reward good behavior and keep improving your processes. Eventually, your employees will begin to feel more confident about reporting wrongdoings. When that happens, your company culture will strengthen its roots of integrity, accountability, and transparency. Explore Ethico’s hotline services today to create a better culture, enhanced productivity, and an improved bottom line!