Get useful tips, learn best practices and read the latest newsThe Whistlelink Blog

Key factors to make your whistleblowing system work 

Make your whistleblowing system work.

With the introduction of the EU Whistleblowing Directive, organisations across Europe are updating, or creating policies on whistleblowing, and implementing new whistleblowing systems. 

The Directive rose out of a need for better protection of those who report wrongdoing and to encourage more people to come forward and report irregularities.  

A challenge for organisations, however, is to implement a whistleblowing system that works in practice. To achieve this goal, there must be trust. In other words, a reliable whistleblowing system should be a natural part of a positive corporate culture.  

Three areas to focus on to build a sense of trust among your employees when implementing a whistleblowing system are, 

  • Awareness 
  • Trust  
  • Feedback 

Let’s take a more in-depth look at why these are key factors in helping your whistleblowing system work.

1. Awareness 

All employees should know how to identify a problem and how to submit a whistleblowing report. 

The EU Directive requires that employees know of the different whistleblowing channels. But in the Open Public Consultation on Whistleblowing (EU, 2017), 42% of respondents said they did not know how or where to send a misconduct report. 

Ensure your employees know that they can report wrongdoing and where to do this. Let them know what different reporting channels are available to them, and that they can make reports in whatever form they feel comfortable with. 

It’s important to show the organisation understands that making a report can be difficult for an employee. Having open discussions about disclosing information and how it will be handled can help prove this. 

Once the whistleblowing channels have been introduced, it’s important to explain why they exist, and what goals you hope to achieve with them. It may be for internal company goals, like “we want to know the problems, so we can do something about them”, or reference to laws and regulations, e.g. “we take whistleblower laws seriously”.  

Also let everyone know that the company or organisation is careful to follow the law, protect its employees and do the right thing. 

2. Trust 

Employees must feel secure and have confidence in the organisation’s whistleblowing process. 

About 80% of employees do not report wrongdoing because they are afraid of legal and financial consequences. 

Being clear with your reasons for internal whistleblowing, and how the organisation will handle reports, will help build trust among employees. Highlight the fact that the EU Whistleblower Directive and national legislation are there to protect whistleblowers from disciplinary actions. 

The most important issue when it comes to trust is the possibility for a whistleblower to be anonymous, and for their identity remain protected throughout the process.  

When implementing a whistleblowing system, make sure it is secure and highlights what measures have been taken to protect personal data. Also check if the system allows for anonymous two-way communication with the whistleblower. 

It’s also important to create a transparent process so everyone in the organisation knows how to handle reports, carry out investigations, and if and what the consequences are.  

Reading tip > How to encourage employees to report misconduct  

Finally, there should be control systems in place to prevent a whistleblower from being retaliated against. If retaliation does occur, sanctions should be imposed on the perpetrator. It sends a powerful message that such behavior is not acceptable and that the person who chooses to report will be protected by the system. 

3. Feedback 

You must investigate all reports as soon as possible, and take necessary measures. 

30% of employees choose not to report misconduct because they do not think it changes anything. 

The way an organisation handles reports is crucial to how well the system works. Employees must trust that a report is answered promptly, and action will be taken. 

The EU Whistleblowing Directive specifies that a whistleblower must receive confirmation of the report being received within seven days. Feedback must be provided within three months. 

Special emphasis must be placed on ensuring that no one is subjected to retaliation. This not only apply to the whistleblower, but also witnesses or other persons involved in the investigation. Make sure that everyone in the report is protected by anonymity. 

Response is also about adapting and continuously improving the whistleblowing system. It’s important to evaluate how effective the system is and spot trends that management can act on. It’s not the number of whistleblowing reports that is important, but deviations from the norm.

 A safe and reliable whistleblowing system

Remember that a good whistleblowing system protects both employees and the organisation. Capturing misconduct through a secure reporting channel, that employees know about and trust, allows oganisations to investigate reports in a safe and structured way. 

Would you like to discuss a suitable whistleblowing solution for your organisation? 

Contact Whistlelink to book a meeting and see a demo of the system. 

If you have any thoughts about this article or would like to know more about Whistlelink, we’d love to hear from you.

Liked this article?
Spread the word

The EU Whistleblowing Directive explained

Philippa Johnsson,
Whistlelink
 

Try Whistlelink for free

Test our whistleblowing system free for a month

The new whistleblowing law

WHISTLELINK BLOGWhat to read next...​

ISO 37002:2021 Whistleblowing Management Systems
Internal investigation of alleged corporate misconduct
Partner interview with Alexandra Mota Gomes, Partner at Antas da Cunha, Portugal

HAPPY TO MEET YOU!

Get in touch

Our team is ready to answer your questions. Find the answer by visiting our support centre, or fill out the form below and we'll be in touch as soon as possible. Or simply give us a call!

Talk with Territory Manager
Annelie Demred

0046 (0)706 83 82 88