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Financial Outsourcing Solutions


FOS Blog

19 Aug

Is Your Whistleblower Hotline Causing Trust Issues?

Is Your Whistleblower Hotline Causing Trust Issues? 

If your financial institution hasn’t received many calls to the Whistleblower Hotline, don’t start patting yourself on the back just yet.  A lack of calls shouldn’t be mistaken for the absence of any wrongdoing within the organization, but should serve as a key indicator that employees may not trust the hotline, the institution’s process, or the outcome.  To determine whether your hotline is effectively working, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do our employees know the hotline exists and do they know what number to call? Make sure the Whistleblower Hotline number is posted conspicuously.  The number should be included in the employee handbook, too, but most employees won’t keep a copy handy.  Send out periodic reminders about the hotline’s availability and the procedures.
  • Have you designated the most appropriate personnel for answering the hotline, and do employees know who’s going to pick up? Employees must be able to trust the individual on the other end of the phone, and must feel that the individual stands independently from management.  Employees are less likely to call when they know they’ll end up speaking with someone, who frequently attends happy hour with upper management or sits in a heavily populated office.  Consider using a third party to operate the hotline and perform investigations.
  • Do employees know they can leave their CSI kits at home? Employees need only report what they suspect, or what they have found or witnessed.  Employees must understand their role in the whistleblower process is reporter, rather than investigator.  An institution’s over-emphasis on “credible” complaints may bring out the Sherlock in some overzealous employees, or may stifle others, who fear retaliation if their reported concerns are ultimately deemed meritless.
  • Do employees fear the outcome of reporting? Inaction or retaliation – if employees believe either of these are the consequence of calling the hotline, your institution either hasn’t provided effective training or the tone from the top has missed the mark.  Communication must be delivered throughout the institution regarding zero tolerance for retaliation, and investigations must be conducted consistently.

Whistleblowers can be your institution’s most effective tool in mitigating the risk of internal fraud, financial loss, and reputational harm.  Make sure the path to reporting is clear and safe for your employees.