What Should a Compliance Officer Do After Receiving a Compliance Hotline Report

July 15, 2022
An ethics hotline offers the clearest possible glimpse into the health of your company culture. It helps bring employee concerns to the surface and detect gaps that linger in communication and training. An anonymous compliance hotline also creates a safe zone for employees to report misconduct they witness or experience without having to fear retaliation.  While a compliance hotline in itself is a massive gold mine to help create a better workplace culture, it only fulfills half the purpose. The other half, however, is associated with how these reports are resolved. This is where the role of the compliance officer comes in. By deploying valuable strategies, compliance officers bring about quick and efficient resolutions of these issues, all the while ensuring they don’t occur in the future.  To ensure the efficiency of your company’s compliance hotline and the quality (and speed) with which these cases are resolved thereafter, compliance officers must stay up to date with all the best practices that govern the ensuing investigation.  Here’s a comprehensive checklist that compliance officers can follow after receiving a compliance hotline report. 

Craft A Game Plan

Each time a report journeys through a hotline, it’s critical to first sketch a result-oriented plan for investigation. Here are some things to keep in mind when planning your investigation:
  • Create specific strategies to shorten the case closure time of reports.
  • Document all the reports in a centralized management system to get a complete picture of the issues and trends. 
  • Begin the investigation right after receiving the report. Timely action can ensure the issue doesn’t reach court. 
  • List out a step-by-step process to ensure the investigation goes smoothly and quickly. 
  • Consider every detail supplied by both parties involved in the case. 

Get the Leadership or A Committee Involved

Compliance officers must get a committee or the senior leadership team involved to help their organization make informed decisions. When you share the proceedings of the investigations with leadership, you point them in the direction of the biggest risk areas that must be mended. Take for instance these questions: Where exactly do these communication gaps occur? Are there any areas where the supervisors may be putting the workers’ safety at risk to meet the production demands? To bring about quick resolutions and ensure these issues do not repeat, it’s critical to have an open communication channel with leadership which is why this subject is emphasized in the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. 

Take Quick Action

Simply put, quick case closure times help avoid fairly smaller cases from translating into massive lawsuits. There is typically a median gap of 21 days between the occurrence of an incident and the reporting date of the incident. This is a massive concern for several organizations. Such a large gap points out several issues – it could mean the reporter fears retaliation or there lingers a breakdown in communication surrounding the hotline. But worst of all, such a gap can be the reason for the loss of important evidence. Regardless of how efficient your compliance hotline is, a faster communication and resolution mechanism are critical to keep future misconducts at bay and maintain the workforce culture. 

Determine If There Are Laws that Apply to the Situation

There is massive room for several employment and labor laws to flow in each time an issue is reported. To ensure 100% compliance during the investigation process, it’s critical to determine any law, regulation, code of conduct, standard, or policy provision that might have a role to play. 

Establish A Timeline for An Investigation

When a complaint hits the hotline, it is important to first set a timeline for resolving it. No two cases might be similar and would require their own set of procedures. Setting a timeline helps ensure the timely resolution of any possible workplace issue.

Document As Much As Possible 

Documenting all the information in a centralized incident management system makes a massive difference when it comes to getting a complete picture of all the issues that are reported. The goal of compliance hotlines is to gather critical information to bring about the changes your workforce needs. A lack of thorough documentation can lead to the loss of valuable information and may come with the potential to bring real changes. In addition, proper documentation ensures all parties fully understand the details of the incident that has occurred. 


Staying updated with some of the current best practices, taking timely action to resolve every compliance report, documenting all report-related resources in one place, and keeping the leadership in the loop are a few of the most invaluable steps a compliance officer can take to help the company culture thrive in the long run. In other words, a compliance officer plays a critical role in terms of retaining and attracting the best talent within the company.  From deploying result-yielding analytics to driving targeted solutions to manage the overall investigations efficiently – ComplianceLine offers quality compliance solutions crafted by expert compliance professionals who care. If you’re looking for compliance services that bring real results, get in touch with us now!