How do we handle an anonymous report?
Anonymous reports can have their limitations but remember, unlike anonymous letters, phone-calls, faxes or e-mails to the company, as a hotline provider Red Flag Reporting gives reporters the option to be anonymous to you but not to us. This allows us to gather follow-up information on your behalf. Reporters may also elect to communicate directly but anonymously with you through our software.
What about a false report from an anonymous call?
This is one of the most common concerns we hear. Through February 2020, we are aware of having received only two false reports in ten years. While it is possible that there are others that we don’t know about, if the problem were common we would likely hear about it more frequently. We discourage false reports through training and by requiring employees to certify their assertions. When we receive reports, they are real and our clients are happy to be able to address them before they become a bigger problem. Furthermore, only people who have organization specific identifiers can contact Red Flag Reporting. This minimizes the likelihood of false reports.
If I get a complaint and don’t follow up on it, does that increase my liability? Or if I follow up on it, but not to the complainant’s satisfaction, more liability?
Frankly, the answer is the same answer for any complaint received through any means. Another question is: if you have a problem and don’t know about it, how are you going to prevent the impending damages to your reputation, employees, and assets?
Why should I bother?
A few things to keep in mind regarding Red Flag Reporting hotline services:
- Our hotline service is extremely simple to implement, requiring very little work.
- Our hotline service is surprisingly affordable, generally requiring a nominal dollar amount per employee per year. Statistics show that just one report can cover the cost of our service for decades.
- Our hotline service is comprehensive – it is not just for a specific topic. It covers any type of unethical behavior ranging from theft to HR issues and from safety to environmental issues. Additionally, in relation to HR types of issues, our hotline service removes any excuse that an employee felt that he/she had nowhere to turn. Labor lawyers tend to like this fact.
- Our hotline service is effective – The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners has identified a fraud hotline as the most cost-effective internal control an organization can have.
- Our hotline service is empowering – most unethical activities are found through open channels of communications and not through checks & balances, audits, and the like. Yet, many witnesses are afraid to get involved. Because we are independent, employees are often comfortable coming to us as a third-party hotline provider.
- Our hotline service acts as a deterrent – The Treadway Commission, the largest study of ethics in the workplace, found that having a strong tone at the top is the most effective way to deter bad behavior. Through our training, on-going communications, posters, and wallet cards, we help you remind your employees that a) you expect ethical behavior and b) you are paying attention.
Very practically, we are far, far less expensive than insurance you have, which (hopefully) you may never use. We have the benefit of deterring and detecting bad behavior before such behavior leads to expensive problems and claims. Our hotline service is also an inexpensive benefit for your employees.
What is the time commitment to implement Red Flag Reporting?
Actually, the time commitment is minimal. We do most of the heavy lifting for you. Practically, your all-in time over the roll-out period is likely three hours or less, plus any time you spend at live trainings.
We have a system that works more or less like yours, why should we change?
If your system is externally managed, you lack the professional feedback from independent, credentialed professionals that Red Flag Reporting delivers as a hotline provider. Furthermore, RFR provides on-going communications promoting safe and ethical behavior. Additionally, our case management system is second to none, while many providers do not provide case management. Finally, we are highly responsive to reporters and case managers.
If your system is internally managed, you probably are not as good with what you have as you think you are. Employees are very sensitive about anonymity and are not likely to call an internal hotline.
If your internal hotline requires a voice message or an e-mail address, you are even less likely to obtain good results. The questions you ask may not be comprehensive and you may not provide the ability to upload evidence. Furthermore, you lack the professional feedback from independent, credentialed professionals. Also, consider the below:
How do we comfort employees who are concerned about receiving a false report filed on them?
Reports are only provided to a small group of members of upper management. Upper management takes an “innocent unless proven otherwise” approach. Reports are maintained in a secure portal and will be investigated with a tone of sensitivity towards both the reporter and the accused.
We are worried about receiving complaints with no meaning or just whining. Does this happen?
We occasionally do receive reports that while real concerns, really are not the purpose of the hotline. These represent only a small minority of reports received and are avoided and minimized via employee education.
What is our responsibility to report back to the employees on investigations/resolutions?
This decision can be made on a case by case basis. It can be beneficial to share with employees the actions taken by management in response to certain reports and the consequences to the perpetrator. This can be done without naming names, is a powerful deterrent to bad activity, and is encouraging to honest employees. You can also do this directly but anonymously with the reporter through our case management system.
We have a culture of openness and are concerned that Red Flag Reporting causes the opposite. Does it?
We do not replace any “open door” policies and your employees should know that; we do provide another option for those who are afraid to speak up. Realistically speaking, however, in our capacity as advisors we rarely see a victim who didn’t think he/she had an open door policy. Red Flag Reporting is not a case of “Big Brother” watching. It is a tool for preventing “one bad apple from spoiling the bunch.”