Whether your company is a startup or publicly traded, an ethics hotline should be in consideration. We recently did a study on workplace wrongdoing and found that 26.5% of employees have witnessed workplace wrongdoing but haven’t reported it, and the primary reason they didn’t report it was because they feared retaliation. In a followup study, we found that 74% of employees would be more inclined to share feedback if it’s truly anonymous. To bridge this gap, utilizing an anonymous ethics hotline will help employees feel safe to report illegal, unethical, and/or improper conduct, and ultimately help your organization uncover and address underlying issues. Before we get into how to implement an ethics hotline, let’s first get into what exactly is an ethics hotline.
What is an ethics hotline?
An ethics hotline, also known as a compliance hotline, is an anonymous reporting tool that allows employees to report and possibly uncover illegal, unethical, and/or improper conduct. This communication is used when standard channels have been proven to be ineffective or impractical given the circumstances. For example, if the employee that has witnessed or been a victim of these actions does not feel comfortable directly reporting this information to human resources (HR) or leadership, then an anonymous, ethics hotline is the communication channel that will be used.
How do ethics hotlines work?
When an employee believes to have witnessed or experienced possibly illegal, unethical, and/or improper conduct, they should be able to report it through an ethics hotline. The ethics hotline typically is a third-party provider so there are no conflicts of inflicts with the company receiving the report. In addition, the ethics hotline provider should allow for anonymous reporting so the employee feels safe to speak up and remove the possibility of retaliation.
After the report is submitted, the third-party provider will send along the report to the appropriate department and/or manager. The department and/or manager receiving the report should be able to follow up with the anonymous reporter by having an encrypted messaging system so the reporter remains anonymous while the company can follow up with any additional questions to investigate the report.
Are ethics hotlines effective?
If your goal is to empower employees to root out cultural issues at companies, then yes, ethics hotlines can be effective. Human resources, legal, and company leadership aren’t always in tune with what’s going on culturally at the company, and getting direct feedback from employees allows the company to make the employees feel like they’re heard, start finding trends of underlying issues, root out issues before they become company-wide issues, and establish a culture of feedback.
How do I choose an ethics hotline vendor?
Given that trust, anonymity, and availability are the key variables for determining if a whistleblower comes forward with a report, an ethics and compliance hotline should be available to employees 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and run by an independent, third-party vendor. Let’s go through each element:
In addition, the ethics and compliance hotline should have dashboards and reports readily available. Over time, you should start seeing trends, such as common issues in certain departments, and be able to address underlying issues before they start becoming company-wide issues and impact your company’s business goals. Moreover, these underlying issues can fester into public relations fiascos. Experts estimate that 63% of a company’s market value is tied to its overall reputation, and by not addressing these issues before they become public, your company’s valuation can drop. Notably, WeWork’s valuation fell by $39 billion after the controversy with its founder, Adam Neumann.
Along with the elements above, other considerations to include when choosing an ethics hotline vendor are:
Next Steps On Choosing An Ethics Hotline Vendor
Picking the right ethics hotline vendor is a key decision as it impacts the amount of feedback you’ll receive and create a culture of feedback. The right vendor should not only provide a tool to allow employees to submit feedback, but also partner with you to help uncover issues and help shape the culture of feedback you’re trying to establish.
AllVoices’ ethics hotline is an anonymous reporting platform that is modern and user-friendly. Our platform is simple to configure and a cost-effective solution that will help your company receive employee feedback and help create psychological safety in the workplace.
Schedule a demo with us today as we’d love to show you how our product works and how it can address your ethics hotline vendor needs.
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An ethics hotline, also known as a compliance hotline, is an anonymous reporting tool that allows employees to report illegal, unethical, or improper conduct.