Whistleblowing is becoming well-established in many companies - as it should. But what is the best way for employees to come forward and report an incident? Here we look at the different options and solutions to make it as easy as possible for companies and employees alike.
Different types of whistleblowing solutions
A whistleblowing scheme can help a company in many ways: it makes the workplace an open and honest place, creates equality between positions, and generally creates a more positive atmosphere in the workplace.
With a whistleblowing scheme, there will also be whistleblowing solutions. A whistleblowing solution should make it easy and anonymous to report misconduct in the workplace. By reporting anonymously, hopefully more people will come forward and report incidents.
Below we will take a look at:
- Email reporting
- Digital reporting
- Telephone reporting
- Physical reporting
As shown, there are many different types of reporting. Each company and each department needs to decide which solution is best suited to their specific need.
Email reporting: A dedicated email
Many people will typically think of email reporting when it comes to whistleblowing. This type of reporting is a good fit for many companies - large and small - but there are some things to consider about email reporting.
Email reporting requires some initial preparation, including ensuring that processing and handling of personal data is done correctly. There are always risks associated with the processing of personal data, especially when it comes to email correspondence.
In addition, it is difficult to report misconduct anonymously by email. As you know, the sender's name appears on an email when it is sent. However, you can create an email address dedicated to whistleblowing, but it won't take long for the experts to find out who is behind the email address.
This is the main problem with whistleblowing by email. According to the latest EU Whistleblowing Directive, the whistleblower must be guaranteed complete confidentiality - there is no point in having a semi-secret email address.
Finally, remember that you need confirmation that your case has been noted - this confirmation must be sent within a week. This means that the mailbox has to be manned during public holidays and vacations, which may not be the most attractive for employees.
One of the most common ways companies enable their employees to report cases is digital reporting, e.g. via a platform. It is easy to implement in existing systems and can be accessed anytime, anywhere.
When you report, you fill in a whistleblower report, which must contain relevant information about the case you are reporting. Here, the person reporting the misconduct has the option of omitting personal data - or identifying information. In other words, you can whistleblow completely anonymously.
By using digital systems, such as a website or implemented programs, you can continue the communication between the whistleblower and the case handler. The whistleblower can remain anonymous when reporting digitally. In addition, you can receive notifications about new messages in the system or if there are changes in the case.
Reporting by telephone
Even though we have moved into a digital age where everything is done online, many people still use telephone reporting. One of the benefits of telephone reporting is that the whistleblower can report an incident wherever they are and get confirmation immediately.
However, a disadvantage is that a phone number cannot be encrypted in the same way as digital or email reporting. Another issue with reporting by phone is the actual reporting of the incident you have experienced - by delivering the report verbally, information may be lost to the person receiving the report.
However, many companies offer telephone reporting alongside another reporting solution. This can be both to meet the needs of employees, but also to make it more flexible - if someone is more comfortable calling and speaking to a caseworker, they can do so, rather than having to describe the incident over text.
There are slightly different types of physical reporting:
A mailbox for reporting
In the early days, when whistleblowing became known and an option for employees, an easy solution was to have a physical mailbox for the reports. One of the ways to remain anonymous is not to write personal and identifying information.
However, you cannot ensure that the case will be reacted to immediately, as the mailbox will not be checked constantly. Furthermore, you cannot have a conversation between yourself and the caseworker. If there are detailed questions, they cannot be asked or answered.
"Open door" reporting
As the name suggests, "open door" reporting is a reporting method where you physically enter a manager's or HR's room to whistleblow. This is a verbal report to ensure that all information and ambiguities are clarified. The whistleblower gets immediate feedback on the case, and they know that the case has been received and is being dealt with.
There are inevitable problems with the 'open door' principle. Some may be enthusiastic about it, but there is no anonymity and you may not be able to get updates on the progress of the case. In addition, the information is not encrypted in an interview - and it may not be encrypted by the caseworker writing down the information.
However, it is important to remember that, although there is not much confidentiality about the "open door" principle, it is always possible, by law, to book a physical meeting with a manager or union representative. You may just need to consider the other options available to you as a whistleblower - and one of these should be implemented in the workplace, in addition to the open door.
The good solution
Each company knows best which solution works best. A good whistleblowing solution will allow the whistleblower to remain anonymous and they should be able to get clarification on the matter.
Another element that strengthens whistleblowing is if external parties can easily and smoothly get involved in the case handling without affecting the progress of the case. Whistleblowing should be something everyone dares to do, as it helps to make the workplace better, and trust between employees increases when you know that everyone can trust each other.
Caroline is a copywriter here at Moxso beside her education. She is doing her Master's in English and specializes in translation and the psychology of language. Both fields deal with communication between people and how to create a common understanding - these elements are incorporated into the copywriting work she does here at Moxso.