Federal regulations and compliance frameworks, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and SOC2, continue to evolve and require certain companies to have a whistleblower platform that can be used by internal personnel and external users. Although requiring companies to implement a whistleblower hotline will hold more companies accountable, these regulations and compliance frameworks don’t provide guidelines on how exactly to choose a vendor.
There are quite a few options to choose from in the market, but picking the right whistleblower hotline vendor is crucial. Most whistleblower hotlines will satisfy the federal regulations and compliance frameworks, but the right whistleblower platform will help generate additional reports and help surface underlying issues.
Before we get into how to choose a whistleblower hotline vendor, let’s talk about why a whistleblower hotline is essential.
Why A Whistleblower Hotline Is Essential
There are constantly new articles coming out about underlying issues at well known companies, such as discrimination at Pinterest and Google employees demanding their employer to stop protecting bullies. Industry experts estimate that 63 percent of a company’s market value is attributed to its overall reputation, and by having these underlying issues surface publicly, the company’s value inevitably drops. Most notably, WeWork’s valuation dropped by $39 billion following the controversy with its founder, Adam Neumann.
If company valuation is tied to public perception, then it is in every company’s best interest to focus on addressing underlying issues before they publicly surface. Human resources and people operations aren’t necessarily thought of as revenue generating departments, but by building a psychological safe workplace with a culture of proactively receiving and addressing feedback, these departments can improve the public perception and the value of their companies.
How To Choose A Whistleblower Hotline Vendor
There are quite a few considerations when picking the right vendor. Let’s go through each:
- Price - Whistleblower hotlines in the market have a wide range of prices but when evaluating options, it will help to identify what your goals are for rolling out a tool. For many organizations, the goal of implementing a tool that will give them access to information from employees that they are not otherwise getting or getting through costly and unproductive channels. A cheap solution might look good for the bottom line, but a low end solution might not receive enough usage to justify the cost or drive change. Conversely, a higher end solution might provide a more efficient cost per use while also helping you receive enough feedback to prevent lawsuits and mitigate public image disasters.
- Features and Functionality - Companies might resort to the cheapest option and use a Google Form and excel sheet to track all of their feedback submissions. However, key features that whistleblower hotlines should have are case manager, anonymous feedback, encrypted messaging, analytics, and mobile friendly. The case manager feature should allow you to track each report to its resolution and have it all housed under one platform. Allowing internal and external users to anonymously submit feedback is a key feature that should be non-negotiable as we found that 70% of employees said they would be more likely to report if there was a truly anonymous method. In addition, an encrypted messaging system will allow you to stay in contact with the anonymous submitter so you can get additional information while also ensuring psychological safety and protection from retaliation to the feedback submitter. Analytics will help you uncover patterns in the feedback, such as recurring issues with a department or individual. Finally, the platform should be mobile friendly and not necessarily an app. Having a simple link for employees to go submit feedback will see a higher adoption rate than requiring them to download an app.
- Integrations - As your tech stack grows, it gets harder to maintain and keep track of them. Your whistleblower hotline will be part of your tech stack, and you want it to be able to integrate with your current software so it becomes easier to manage over time. When choosing a whistleblower hotline, we highly recommend going with one that integrates with HRIS systems, such as Workday or Zenefits, for accurate and detailed data and reporting.
- Compliance - Sarbanes Oxley requires the whistleblower hotline to “log collection and and provide audit trail for all access and activity to sensitive business information”, while SOC2 requires a “dedicated whistleblowing hotline”. Most whistleblower hotlines will satisfy these requirements, but with the right vendor, you’ll receive additional reports to mitigate issues.
- Partnership Services - The difference between a good and great whistleblower hotline isn’t just the features the tool offers, but does the vendor actively partner with you to provide up-to-date resources on how to receive feedback, how to successfully roll out the tool, and so on? The whistleblower hotline vendor should partner with the department managing this platform and help uncover underlying issues and make your company’s brand value increase through positive public perception.
- Usage & Trust - studies have shown that companies receive around 1.4 whistleblower reports per 100 employees annually. By utilizing a trusted platform, you should see an increase in reports per 100 employees, which will lead to a safer work environment and protect your company’s brand value.
Next Steps On Choosing A Whistleblower Hotline Vendor
Choosing the right whistleblower vendor is a big decision. The right vendor will help uncover underlying issues before they become public fiascos, which will ultimately protect your company’s brand value. While vetting whistleblower hotline vendors, make sure to take a look at their features, integrations, partnership services, and usage & trust.
Look no further though as AllVoices excels in all of these categories!
The AllVoices platform is hotline compliant yet more modern, mobile, and user-friendly than a typical whistleblower hotline. It is a simple, cost-effective solution to ensure that your company is up to date with hotline requirements and values of a modern workplace. We put trust, compliance, and customization first, in a way that allows your people teams to ensure that your company’s feedback culture and public perception remains strong.
We’d love to give you a demo of our product and showcase how our product will address your whistleblower hotline needs.