To make a great compliance program, you need a lot of important ingredients: excellent data and analytics, easy tracking for compliance goals, inclusive training content, and an effective whistleblower hotline for reporting misconduct, to name a few. 

Reporting (or whistleblower) hotlines, in particular, have a major impact on how a company’s compliance program is perceived, both externally and internally. While there are protections in place by OSHA on whistleblower policy, there is something to be said about going a step further.

According to research from Harvard, “employees should be able to make whistleblower tips anonymously or, at the very least, confidentially, as research indicates that employees are more comfortable reporting suspected wrongdoing when such options are available.”

Bottom line? The success of your hotline depends on the trust-building structures you place around it. So let’s get into it.

The problems with traditional whistleblower hotlines

There’s always been more than one way to approach a reporting hotline. And remember, according to research, how you structure your reporting process has a direct impact on its effectiveness. 

  • Should it simply be an email to HR? 
  • Should employees have the option to report anonymously?
  • Should reports be handled by a third party?

The good news is that Ethena’s new Employee Hotline & Case Management tools address all of these issues head-on. Because you know, we take a modern approach to everything we do, and we want to make sure it’s backed up by the latest research that supports effective workplace change.

Our anonymous reporting tool is user friendly

But in case you don’t believe us, we’ll walk you through what makes a great anonymous hotline, so you know what to look for when evaluating your own. (Hint: Ethena’s Hotline checks all the boxes and then some, but we’ll get to more on that later.)

Why do whistleblower hotlines matter?

There are a number of good reasons why a business — and its employees — need a place to report illegal activity and wrongdoing in the workplace.

  • You are prepared for when misconduct occurs. In many ways, providing an option for employees to call out when things go wrong is pretty obvious, because in the business of compliance, we should proactively prepare for misconduct to occur, rather than act like it never will. 
  • It shows you have a solid compliance program. In the event of an investigation by the government, investigators take an organization’s compliance program into account. Seeing a robust reporting function already in action is major evidence of a solid compliance program. 
  • It helps to build a stronger culture of trust. By simply providing a place for employees to report wrongdoing, organizations can establish a stronger culture of accountability and trust in their workspaces. No one wants to work in a workplace where they’re unable to call out misconduct when they witness it at work, and by providing a whistleblower hotline, an organization shows commitment to improvement and becomes that much safer to work in.

3 ingredients of a great employee hotline

There are many ways for a business to offer reporting opportunities to its employees, but what actually makes an employee hotline effective? Let’s start with the obvious. What kind of hotline do you have? Typically, the current status of your organization’s reporting program may look like:

  • In-house
  • Third-party-managed
  • Or nonexistent

A report from the Institute of Internal Auditors and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners shared the state of whistleblower hotline programs today. So let’s talk about the key elements that have a direct effect on a program’s success, and how you can potentially improve the reporting process of your compliance program.

1. Whistleblower hotlines need to be accessible

Accessibility may not be the most obvious answer, but it’s certainly one of the most impactful metrics for a better reporting program. Typically, excellent whistleblower programs have the below features: 

  • Allowing for reports to be sent 24/7
  • Having online reporting functionality
  • Hosting a visible whistleblower policy accessible from anywhere

In the same vein as Ethena’s training platform, which can be accessed anywhere via a one-click magic link, Ethena’s Hotline tool allows for employees to submit a report anytime, from anywhere. Typically, anytime they can access their training, like from their cell phone after work or on the weekends, they can anonymously report misconduct. 

It's easy to manage cases in Ethena

2. Businesses need multiple avenues for reporting

Similar to accessibility, a great compliance program offers multiple options for submitting a report. In fact, research shows that organizations with four or more options for reporting were rated as “extremely or highly effective” by over 50% of their employees.

A great option for compliance teams looking for multiple reporting options: partner with a third-party reporting tool like Ethena’s. With Ethena, administrators are able to manage and track anonymous reports easily, in one place, all with our easy-to-access user interface. 

And because Ethena’s admin platform can be accessed by multiple users and teams, anonymous information can easily be shared between multiple departments, like HR and Legal.

3. Third-party whistleblower programs are more effective

While it may seem contradictory, data shows that a whistleblower hotline hosted by an external, third-party provider is perceived as far more trustworthy, and effective, than an in-house reporting option. 

But confusing as it may be at face value, it makes perfect sense when you think about it from the employee perspective: When employees know that another employee (HR for example) is going to be reviewing their report, they feel less trust that the organization will actually act on the report. Even worse, when reporting is processed internally, employees may fear that any anonymity will be ignored and whistleblower retaliation will occur.

Luckily, Ethena’s Hotline tool allows for employees to optionally submit anonymous reports on a secure platform, with helpful guiding information about when and how reports are submitted, processed, and tracked. 

With each report, employees are able to select the level of confidentiality they’d prefer, including an option to allow admins to contact them with any necessary follow-up communications while still protecting their identity.

Do anonymous reporting the easy way that builds a culture of trust

Okay, you caught us. We went on and on about our new Hotline tool. (Which we are pretty excited about.) But we have more to offer than just that. We support your compliance program from all angles. So why partner with us?

But don’t just take our word for it. Our G2 reviews rave about us, and for teams looking to upgrade their whistleblower hotline, try Ethena’s Employee Hotline tool. It’s the modern, effective approach to an anonymous hotline that allows for employees and admins to easily submit, track, and respond to reports of misconduct. Ready to see it in action for your compliance needs? Let’s talk.

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