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!

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