The employee helpline is one of the most dynamic and meaningful tools a compliance professional has at their disposal. Paired with the right metrics solution, it can act as an early warning system, arming you against crises, investigations, and negative business outcomes.
But it’s not enough just to have the right helpline in place. In order to get the most from your helpline, you have to make sure your employees are engaging with it, that your team can easily manage cases, and that you’re collecting enough information from your reports. Here’s an eight-step process to maximizing the impact of your employee helpline.
1. Raise Employee Helpline Awareness
Make your employee helpline visible at every opportunity. Produce and share short videos—the production value doesn’t have to be elaborate. Create awareness campaigns using email. Lobby for time to pitch the helpline during company town hall meetings. If there’s a way to reach your workforce, use it.
2. Create a Speak-up Culture
Show how speaking up helps maintain ethical culture, ideally tying it back to your company values. One Convercent customer created an entire strategy to engage employees in the compliance process and make speaking up a cultural norm within the company—click here to see how they did it.
3. Increase Accessibility
If nobody can find your employee helpline, it won’t do any good. Link to the helpline on your company intranet, in email signatures, and wherever employees are likely to see it on a regular, recurring basis.
4. Provide a Variety of Intake Methods
Give your employees options. It’s likely that your company has a variety of different working environments, particularly in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, so traditional reporting methods may not be available to everyone. Plus, employees will feel more comfortable submitting a report if they can use a channel they’re accustomed to, whether that’s an anonymous phone call, a web form, a chat with their boss, or SMS texting.
5. Protect Confidentiality
Your employee helpline will only succeed if your employees trust that you can protect their confidentiality. Make it easy to stay anonymous.
6. Communicate regularly
Speaking of trust, it’s human nature to feel more trusting toward things that are familiar. It’s not quite enough to make sure that your workforce knows the employee helpline exists. Remind them of it frequently, so that when the time comes for them to submit a report, they know exactly where to do so and how to go about doing it. Regular communication about your helpline and the reporting process is key.
7. Prevent retaliation
Make it clear that retaliation has no place at your company—and then track it. Retaliation sometimes escapes detection or shows up in expected ways. Keith Read, a long-time expert on corporate retaliation, recommends taking a sample of 100 named reports and creating five “indicators of retaliation” (e.g., pay, bonus, annual review rating, shift and overtime allocation, etc.). Plot how each of those 100 reporters fares in each category. This process can reveal significant issues and patterns.
8. Use the Data
Your employee helpline data can take your compliance program to the next level by showing you exactly where your company’s problem areas are. Identify trends, regional hot spots, and prevalent issue types in your data, and you’ll be a more well-informed, nimble team.