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Managers may be the last to know about an ethics issue in the business. It is important to give employees a way to alert management to potential problems without fear of retaliation. When establishing a whistleblower policy, consider the following:

Whistleblower Reports are a Gift

While bad news is never enjoyable, it can stave off worse news down the line. An internal report from an employee gives management a chance to find and remedy problems, reducing business risk and regulatory consequences.

Provide Anonymous Reporting

Employees are more likely to speak up about a problem if they can do so anonymously. Many businesses use a hotline service for anonymous calls. Using a third party can make reporters more comfortable and forthcoming.

Keep an Open Mind

An employee may report something that you have trouble believing. Make sure that you use objective standards when reviewing and investigating allegations. Just because something is hard to believe or acknowledge doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

Investigate Promptly

Investigations show a commitment to ethical behavior. They also discourage misconduct elsewhere in the business. A prompt investigation helps shows authorities that the business is not allowing problems to flourish, which can reduce penalties.

Follow the Trends

If similar reports stem from the same department or business function, there may be a serious and ongoing problem. Do business policies in that area need to be reviewed? Is there one employee engaged in misconduct at the root of the problem? Repeat information can help solve recurring issues.

Federal and State Laws May Apply

Be aware that anti-retaliation rules protect whistleblowers from demotion, firing, or other negative consequences. Check before you act.