What Is Your Case Management Missing?

A look at the key functions you should expect from your Case Management process

We all know how important a Case Management solution is when it comes to collecting and managing incident reports throughout your organization. Not only does it provide you with deeper insights into your employees behavior, but it allows you to address the issue at their root cause. Case Management allows you to be armed to identify and address issues, but what is your case management missing?

Hotlines and case management are tried and true aspects of compliance programs. But many organizations have had these processes in place for years, and they may no longer be as efficient or effective as they could (or should) be. To give you peace of mind about your program—or some ideas for improvements—here’s a look at the key, but sometimes overlooked, functions you should expect from your Case Management process.

REPORT INTAKE CHANNELS

First, report intake channels are key to making your case manager successful. It is important that the intake process is easy-to-use and non-threatening so it is easier than ever for your workforce to submit issues. When it comes to your incident reporting channels, two goals should rank higher than any others:

  1. Make it easy for your employees to let you know what’s going on.
  2. Ensure reports are consistently documented and managed across all channels.

To maximize employee confidence and comfort when it comes to reporting, it’s best to o‑er options, which may include phone-based, Web-based and in-person channels. Some companies also allow employees to send incident reports via email and SMS. While each reporting channel type has similarities and differences, they should all be designed and promoted alongside one another to encourage employees to come forward through whatever means they feel comfortable, and cohesively managed to encourage consistent reports, investigations, responses and analysis.

MUST-HAVE REPORTING CHANNEL FEATURES

  • Provide clear calling directions for every country where you have employees
  • Offer it around the clock, especially if you’re a multinational organization with employees around the world
  • Have someone at the other end of the phone (voicemails won’t make people feel like you take these reports seriously)—preferably someone trained to take and properly document these calls and conduct interviews
  • Make sure callers are greeted in their local language—they’ll instantly feel more at ease—and minimize the time they need to wait for a translator • Accept anonymous whistleblower reports where legally permitted
  • Let a reporter tell you what happened as soon as possible—burying them in legal terms, conditions and disclaimers may seem threatening, intimidating or arduous and lead to a high abandon rate
  • Ask questions consistent with the web intake form to minimize report and data discrepancies across channels
  • Give reporters a secure way to upload evidence or documents
  • Make sure reporters know how to access their reports, supplement allegations, see the case status or view the case outcome once they’ve filed the initial report
  • Secure a way for the company to request additional information from reporters—even the anonymous ones

WEB

  • Make it look easy and non-threatening: heavy legal text (especially before you even get into the report), instructions in red or ALL CAP fonts or hard-to-follow forms can all decrease the likelihood or completeness of reports
  • Provide pages and forms translated into your employees’ native languages
  • Offer anonymity where legally permitted
  • Follow EU Data Protection laws where needed
  • Customize your portal using company branding, photos and language from company leaders and employees to reinforce your commitment to an open and fair company culture
  • Provide an easy-to-follow wizard that walks employees through the process and provides help text where needed
  • Link to your company Code of Conduct and/or policies—especially the ones that reinforce whistleblower security, confidentiality and non-retaliation • Give reporters a secure way to upload evidence or documents
  • Make sure reporters know how to access their reports, supplement allegations, see the case status or view the case outcome once they’ve filed the initial report
  • Secure a way for the company to request additional information from reporters—even the anonymous ones

IN PERSON

  • Provide clear policies regarding the handling of in-person reports, including who can accept reports, how managers should treat reporters, questions to ask, information to gather and disclaimers to provide
  • Set clear guidelines on the different definitions and protocol around issues related to compliance and HR
  • Regularly train managers on policies, expectations and legal requirements around employee confidentiality, security and non-retaliation
  • Make sure managers know where and how—and how quickly—they’re expected to log proxy reports into your case management system
  • Ensure all information from in-person reports contains the same data as other intake channels
  • Give managers and reporters a secure way to upload evidence or documents related to the report
  • Make sure managers can let employees know how to access their reports, supplement allegations, see the case status or view the case outcome once they’ve filed the initial report

Once a report is received it’s time to move onto managing the case. Case management is easiest if you think of the process as having three stages:

  1. Organization
  2. Handling
  3. Post-case analysis

First, being organized in the way you classify your issues is going to be a huge efficiency driver. When a case is submitted, it can either be classified as employee-driven or compliance driven. Employee-driven classification means you pre-populate (yes, it saves your time!) your intake channels and case manager with predefined issue types for employees to choose from, and the issue type drives the severity assignment and case routing.  Compliance-driven classification is based on the idea that a member of legal or compliance is better qualified to determine issues types than employees. Only after a member of these teams review and categorizes each report type and severity based on the allegation is the issue routed.

Secondly, the way you handle a report, it should be dispatched immediately. You need to be able to easily configure routing rules, escalation procedures, notifications settings and access controls os issues are immediately forwarded to the right person. Once the right person is notified, it is important to have ongoing communication with reporting parities.

Last and certainly not least, post-case analysis allows you to get  a better understanding of what is going on in your program. Hotline reports and cases are clear window into potential compliance program weaknesses – what don’t you know that you don’t know? By documenting all parties involved, issue types and the program components can more easily uncover trends or identify compliance hotspots based on issue type, risk area, business unit, office location or any number of variables. It also allows for improvement. While it may seems like a case is done once it has been resolved, there is so much more you can do with it- in a more efficient way than you previously were able. Take the information and use it to evaluate and improve your overall compliance program. In addition, you can always look at the impact of everything happening inside your compliance data including policies, training courses, risk areas, job titles and more.

Effectiveness in a compliance program is critical, but employee engagement, insight and efficiency can be crucial drivers in your team’s ability to manage and improve effectiveness. Bolstering these three elements can help your team spend more time in the field and on the front lines (instead of behind a computer doing admin work), allowing you to better address issues and their root causes and focus on improving your program overall. A logical way to start improving your team’s engagement, insight and efficiency is to first make sure that the systems you rely on—including your Case Management solution—can support those goals.