On Friday, June 26, 1998, the United States Supreme Court reworked the sexual harassment claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Employers may be held liable for sexual harassment if they do not exercise reasonable care to prevent and correct promptly any sexual harassment behaviour in the workplace. Employers cannot get away from any sexual harassment incident. One of the tools to help employers identify these incidents is setting an effective hotline.
Why do you need an effective hotline
Before you start developing your hotline, you need a clear idea of what you want to accomplish through the hotline. If you have already developed a hotline, you need to ask yourself how effective your hotline is. Are you developing the hotline because you want to check-the-box to fulfill regulatory requirements? or you want to make your hotline effective where your employees are willing to share concerns? If you have not developed a hotline, what objectives you would be looking to achieve through a hotline?
This is about HR strategy, and it is directly related to growing your organisation. For example, you could achieve HR goals via talent management and driving better workplace culture. A better workplace culture is highly welcome by most talent and easy to retain. Having a workplace where your employees love will result in more engaged employees, helping the company to grow its business. Employees will have less excuses not to attend work and will proudly act your company’s brand ambassadors.
Now, let's take a step back to see what "effective hotline” means.
Six ways to make your hotline effective
An effective hotline is one where employees are willing to report a concern to you when they see or hear something that might be hurting them, their colleagues or even the company business (brand).
1. An effective hotline should be easily accessible by your employees, and their families. For example, an employee is being bullied. He is afraid to share with anyone in the company, but may share with his wife. His wife may have the courage to report the incident to you because psychologically, she loves her husband and wants to protect him. Your hotline not only available to the employee but extended to their family will result in great impact and appreciation from this employee.
2. An effective hotline should allow anonymous reporting. You want to let your employees know that they have the option to stay anonymous while making a report. This eases them from worrying of being identified or getting retaliated when making the report. You might wonder, how can you investigate the incident if the reporter is an anonymous person. Good question! Read on!
3. An effective hotline should allow HR and the reporter to communicate via an anonymous platform. The person who manages this incident (e.g. you or your colleague), can continue to communicate with the reporter anonymously. For example, IntegraCall® lets reporters communicate directly with the HR investigator via anonymous instant messages.
4. An effective hotline should be trusted by employee. If they do not trust your hotline, most employees would rather keep quiet and not to report misconduct. Employees are afraid of being targets of retaliation, some are afraid of getting their careers ruined if they report a senior manager. To gain your employee’s trust, you should develop relevant policies to encourage a “speak-up culture”. You should demonstrate that you are fair, you will not side-track your investigation opinion, or create unfair advantage especially when the alleged subject is in senior management.
5. HR should raise employee awareness on your company’s speak-up initiatives. Awareness campaigns help employees to learn about workplace harassment and bullying. The campaign should emphasis how HR would handle an incident. Do share the speak-up and investigation incident management process with your employees. Let them know that workplace harassment and bullying are serious issues. Let them know about the anonymous features of your hotline. Educate them HR is not spying on them but trying to give employees the opportunity to share concern. With these series of campaigns, it will encourage employees to trust and use your hotline more.
6. A hotline platform that understands your employees’ language. If you are a multinational company, you might have employees who speak different languages. Having a hotline platform that can understand your employees’ language and translated into HR (investigator)'s language can be very handy for the investigation.
If you are not sure if your hotline is effective, let’s look below if your employees have these concerns:
- It is difficult to call a hotline. The agent doesn't understand what I was trying to say.
- Your employee has been trying to call the hotline. But there is no agent available.
- Your employee is mentally hurt and find it difficult and embarrassed to speak over a phone.
- Your employee prefers a method to quietly report the incident (through mobile app chat or submit a form.) as do not want to get noticed.
- Your employee's feeling is hurting and unfortunately the agent kept asking your employee to repeat again as the agent cannot hear it properly.
- Your employee is not comfortable speaking in English when reporting an unfortunate incident that happens on himself/ herself.
- Your employee is afraid of being identified.
- Your employee is concerned if the hotline is secured and private.
- Your employee is afraid communicating with your investigator because his identify is exposed.
- Your employee who is millennial prefers chat more than call.
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How can we help
The Red Flag Group has many years’ experience in developing programmes related to workplace harassment as well as whistle-blowing. We also provide hotline and training services to support the successful operation of your programmes.
If you wish to understand more about effective hotline and case management products. Schedule a call with us.