Below, we explore these three common myths or concerns about whistleblowing systems.
This could be true if a whistleblower goes directly to the media or another external outlet. The damage could be done before it’s too late to react. Having an internal reporting system and encouraging employees to use it can prevent them from disclosing information externally.
Providing reports are handled correctly, it gives a company the opportunity to identify and address issues at an early stage. Subsequently reducing potential risks and damage to its reputation.
Many companies believe that simply having a whistleblowing system will mean they’re inundated with false (and true!) reports because people will report something for the sake of it.
This isn’t necessarily the case and it isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
It has been shown that although some reports may be made on malicious grounds, most whistleblowers are actually trying to do what is right.
Receiving a high quantity of whistleblower reports may appear to indicate a lot of issues to address. But it can actually indicate that an organisation has good governance practices and a healthy working culture, where employees feel comfortable to speak-up.
More reports may mean more issues. But if they are issues to be resolved then a company wants to know about them. Knowing about them is the only way to stop them, and prevent any seriously damaging financial or reputational harm.
A study by Harvard Business Review found that organisations with a higher number of whistleblowing reports actually have fewer lawsuits, smaller fees from legal settlements, and fewer fines.
Receiving few reports may feel good, because it indicates that everything is working well. But it in fact may indicate that a whistleblowing policy is not working as intended.
Employees may not trust the whistleblowing channels in place. Or, they simply do not know where to turn to report misconduct in the workplace. It is therefore important to have a clear and transparent whistleblowing policy that is well communicated to employees. It should detail how to use the reporting system, that reports are anonymous, and how cases will be handled.
Reading tip > How to encourage employees to report misconduct
Organisations worry that introducing a whistleblowing system could indicate that it doesn’t trust its workforce. Or maybe that it wants to encourage its employees to snitch on each other. Then the whistleblower is concerned about bullying and retaliation. Signs of a negative culture.
Actually, when done well, it’s quite the opposite.
An organisation that shows it actively encourages employees to report concerns and supports them if they do so, gains more trust. Consequently achieving an open and honest culture. Creating better working relationships and loyal employees, who are more likely to make reports using internal rather than external channels.
This also promotes a company’s reputation as it sends strong signals that a company takes ethical matters seriously and is prepared to tackle any irregularities.
A positive culture with an ethical approach can make an organisation more attractive to customers, investors or employees. In fact, millennials are more concerned about buying from or working for corporations that have high ethical standards than those that don’t.
An anonymous reporting system is a good indication of high ethical standards. This is because it implies the organisation has no intention of retaliating against a whistleblower. Instead, it shows that the company wants to know about any unethical or illegal activity taking place so that it can do something about it to put it right.
Are you feeling more confident that a whistleblowing system is a good idea for you? Contact us or book a free demo and we’ll take you through implementing a system and the best fit for your organisation.
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If you have any thoughts about this article or would like to know more about Whistlelink, we’d love to hear from you.
Philippa Johnsson, Whistlelink
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