Whistle-blowing is the act of telling the authorities or the public that the organization you are working for is doing something immoral or illegal. (Collins Dictionary)
Frequently a new story seems to emerge exposing a questionable practice at a major or local company. Whether that company be Google, Twitter or Facebook, or your local grocery store, many of these stories are exposed by whistleblowing. However, this is not a negative thing. Whistleblowing is a key element to the safe, moral and efficient running of a business big or small, and all Canadian businesses should consider a whistle-blowing policy if one is not already in place. A whistleblower policy should protect an employee’s job and anonymity at all stages if an employee decides to report behaviour or practices which they deem illegal or unethical.
What’s a whistleblower system?
An efficient whistle-blowing system complements a company policy by providing the tools for employees to anonymously report information relating to harmful, illegal, unethical or fraudulent activity. By using a system that provides anonymity and protection, an employee is far more likely to report practices in an organization that they are uncomfortable with, particularly if it involves their direct manager or co-workers.
What benefits does a whistleblower system bring?
A good whistle-blower system ensures that staff feel comfortable about reporting misconduct which can dramatically improve the performance of organizations. Higher-levels of management may find out that unethical practices are taking place and are able to repress them before the activities severely damage an organization. In short, whistle-blower systems help prevent issues from going unnoticed by those who can deal with the problem.
A good whistle-blower policy and system which is well communicated can also increase employee trust, leading to higher employee satisfaction, higher employee engagement, improved job performance and lower employee turnover. Knowing that their company has an effective system in place creates an insurance policy for the employee, meaning that they don’t have to deal with ethical dilemmas of whether they should or shouldn’t report something. This, in-turn, helps decrease workplace stress and concern and helps decrease turnover.
A whistleblower system is also mandatory in some industries and can help a business comply with it's regulatory responsibilities. If you’re in an industry where a whistleblower policy and system is mandatory, and you don’t comply by implementing an effective policy and system, this can result in unnecessary penalties.
Please note: It’s important that a whistleblower policy is properly communicated with your employees. This helps ensure that your employees fully understand what the policy is meant for and how it works. It also ensures that employees are not wasting time and resources! Create a clear policy and ensure you communicate effective procedures to every employee at the company.
Should you use an external or internal system?
Although some companies utilize an internal whistleblowing system, an internal system has some major drawbacks. Although a policy may guarantee or promise anonymity, an employee may be fearful of distrustful of using a system that is internal due to the fear that someone will find out, or the information will fall into the wrong hands. This fear can be as extreme as worrying about losing one’s job, depending on what information is being conveyed through the whistle-blowing channels.
Also, if someone discovers illegal or unethical practices taking place in the department or by the individuals that run the whistle-blowing service, it creates a clear problem that renders the entire system and policy redundant.
An external whistleblowing system remedies these problems by allowing the employees confidence that the system is disconnected from the company. This makes employees far more likely to report important sensitive information and leads to effectively preventing possible misconduct and improve the performance within your organization. An external system also reduces company costs of setting up such a system internally.
Please note: Many whistleblower service providers outsource their service to call centres around the world (so you never really know who is accessing your company’s information). Which is why its important to double check with your provider if all submitted information is collected directly by their organization and nobody in between.
The Tandem Team
At the Tandem Team, we offer an anonymous whistleblowing system that can be accessed by phone and through an online form. We are proud to say that our in-house service offers confidentiality by making sure all provided information goes directly from your employees to The Tandem Team and from The Tandem Team to the appropriate individual from your organization.
Our service is anonymous, easy to use and cost effective, which is why we are trusted by many Canada wide organizations.
Contact us today to find out more about our whistleblowing system.