Speak Up! Part 2: How to Educate Your Employees on Where to Report a Violation

Last week we told you about the dangers of unreported ethics violations, and the types of incidents your employees need to recognize and report. Now that you have ethics reporting on the mind, it is important to provide you a primer on where your employees can go to report violations, and how to ease their fears of retaliation.

Every employee should be aware that he or she has a duty to report ethics and legal violations. However, not every employee understands the proper channels communicate those violations. This is a major reason why the 40% of unreported violations we told you about last week are allowed to slip through the cracks.

Reporting Solutions: A Three-Step Formula

There is a simple three-step formula for informing employees where and how they should report ethical violations they witness in the workplace. Some or all can be implemented by your company into a code-of-conduct or written policy, or communicated to your employees as you see fit.

  1. Confront the Accused

If an employee suspects wrongdoing, he or she should be encouraged to share those concerns with the person involved. Doing so will allow the employee to begin to understand their point of view, and hold that person accountable, which is what a “Speak Up!” culture is really all about.

  1. Speak to a Manager, and Don’t Fear Retaliation 

If a conversation with the accused doesn’t solve the problem, the first choice you should tell your employees is to report misconduct to a manager or supervisor, either in person, in writing, or over the telephone. The manager may be the best person to help work through the issue or direct the employee who to contact for help.

Many employees are afraid to report violations out of fears that adverse employment action (“retaliation”) will be taken if they do so. For this reason, it may be beneficial to instruct employees to report violations directly to Human Resources professionals who are trained to handle complaints and connect employees with the appropriate authorities within the organization and up the management chain.

  1. Use an Anonymous Reporting Service

Perhaps the best method of reporting that is becoming commonplace in the corporate world are “anonymous hotline reporting services.” These third-party ethics hotlines allow employees to anonymously report violations that are then investigated by the company without anyone internally knowing who made the complaint. 

Whichever method you instruct your employees to report violations, encourage them to do so, and remind them that there will be no retaliation for reporting complaints in good faith. It is always a good idea to craft written policies and codes of conduct that instruct all employees how to report violations, and also to provide training to your workforce on ethics in the workplace.

Syntrio is committed to helping businesses avoid costly incidents associated with ethics violations in the workplace. We are also able to custom-tailor our courses to fit the needs of your business. Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our ethics and code of conduct online courses for employees and management and remember to follow us on Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on compliance that impact your company!

 

Speak Up! Reporting Ethics Violations is Serious Business

Rarely a day goes by without a headline about a career toppled over an ethics violation. All too frequently the subsequent text reveals a trail of unheeded warning signs uncovered by the investigation following the incident. Indeed, corruption, carelessness, and unethical behavior often go unreported, which presents a serious problem for companies seeking to maintain a culture of compliance.

Statistics show that ethics violations are going unreported at an alarming rate. Indeed, approximately 60 percent of employees surveyed responded that they had witnessed at least one ethics violation at their current place of employment, yet only 45 to 60 percent of those bothered to report it. Worse yet, how serious an ethics violation has little to do with whether an employee is willing to report the violation, and managers committed a full 60 percent of the violations witnessed.

The key to maintaining a positive ethical culture at your company is to encourage a “speak up” culture wherein employees hold one another accountable and where everyone feels comfortable identifying and reporting wrongdoing before consequences occur. In general, you should encourage employees to immediately report known or suspected misconduct if they feel the act could have a detrimental impact on the employee, their co-workers, or the company as a whole.

What Acts are “Reportable Offenses?”

There are a variety of reportable violations that your managers should make employees aware of, so that they are not left in the dark about what is a “reportable” offense. The most common forms of violations are as follows:

  • Theft
  • Improper use of time and resources
  • Breach of confidentiality
  • Safety violations
  • Discrimination or Harassment
  • Abusive Behavior
  • Bribery
  • Fraud
  • Falsifying records and reports

Of course, there are hundreds of other ethics questions that cross into the “grey” area of reporting. As a company, it is your job to educate and instruct your employees about how to identify and report misconduct so that it does not continue. “SPEAK UP!”

Syntrio is committed to helping businesses avoid costly incidents associated with ethics violations in the workplace. We are also able to custom-tailor our courses to fit the needs of your business. Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our ethics and code of conduct online courses for employees and management and remember to follow us on Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on compliance that impact your company!

Stay tuned, as next week we will examine the proper channels for reporting ethics violations that an employee witnesses at your company, and how to choose which method is right for you.