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  • Samantha Moore

Independent Employee Hotlines are Gaining Traction as a Best Practice

Three people looking at paperwork on a desk.

Misconduct in the workplace is a popular topic in the news and corporate events as of late. Whether that misconduct is financial fraud, discrimination, or sexual harassment, it is wrong. And more and more people are fighting everyday to take a stand against these wrongdoings and businesses inability to acknowledge them.

However, bringing up these issues still poses quite a problem in professional culture. Both employees and employers worry that such accusations will cost them their jobs, or worse, lead to a miserable life in order to maintain the livelihood they have worked so hard to build.

As a response to employees' fear and the growing culture of intolerance for such behavior, businesses are beginning to implement anonymous employee hotlines for employees to use if they witness any misconduct. This change instill hope that the world may finally be ready for much needed change.

In December 2017, Harvard Business Review published an article regarding workplace misconduct that stated: "The board should ensure that the company has a well-publicized reporting system, so employees can report (anonymously or confidentially if they choose) ethical and compliance concerns. Using open-ended ethics questions on employee opinion surveys and exit questionnaires can also help the CECO and board monitor the workplace environment." By offering trust through anonymity, employees will be more likely to use the outlet provided.

How Do These Anonymous Employee Hotlines Work?

There are several designs to an employee hotline. Some are easier to promote than others but it is always best to give employees options as you may be working with varying demographics in a company. Read on to explore the various ways a company could set up an anonymous employee hotline.

Reporting Via Text Message

Easily the most popular communication method for anyone under the age of fifty, text message is a great way to receive and respond to reports made by employees. A text message employee hotline is easy to promote, and involves placing posters near heavy-traffic areas where all employees will see them. From there, the company has the option to receive text messages straight to a designated person's phone or to the email account.

Whatever application is chosen, it must save these reports and all correspondence to an online account where they may be called up again in case the conversation becomes controversial or if the report is highly urgent. These text messages should also be completely anonymous, and use a relay system to hide contact information for both the sender and receiver.

Reporting Via Online Form

This is a common method provided to employees and involves promoting a website where an employee can visit and submit their report. This method can be promoted with printed materials at a business location or broadcast in an employee newsletter/memo.

Reporting Via Phone

This method is the most common form of employee hotline and means that an employee must call a designated phone number to speak to a live operator. This operator then transcribes the message to preserve the anonymity of the employee and submits the transcription to the company.

Although the most common, in the past these hotlines have proven to be cumbersome in use and employees don't always receive information on what was done regarding their report. Leaving employees in the dark can contribute to a feeling of distrust for their employer and mean low reporting volumes.

In any sense, misconduct in the workplace is unacceptable and although direct communication is always encouraged, reporting can be a large obstacle to many people who wish to keep their jobs and lives intact. Anonymous employee hotlines can reduce the worry and stress put on corporate boards and enhance a company's employee experience and morale. They provide promise to the corporate world as their presence and abilities are becoming more known, more impactful, and more respected.


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