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13. October 2023
Why email isn't enough for your whistleblowing solution
Whether by way of the European Union’s recent mandate or a potential parliamentary review in the UK, whistleblowing has become a hot topic for many organisations. And, finding the right solution to help facilitate whistleblowing is growing in importance.
Many organisations know the value of a whistleblowing solution as a dedicated, anonymous reporting channel for employees. But, a real risk occurs when teams try to use email as the sole solution – in this article, we want to explore that risk and offer some helpful advice.This guide provides you with all relevant information, facts and figures on whistleblowing.
The rise of whistleblowing in organisations
The first reason that many organisations consider using email to manage reports of whistleblowing is due to frequency. They don’t anticipate many people to actively blow the whistle, so facilitating it through email is fine.
That said, according to our latest research a shocking 61% of UK employees and 52% of employees across Europe have witnessed some kind of workplace misconduct in a given year which they wanted to raise a concern about. That’s a staggering amount of potential whistleblowers out there, many of whom simply don’t know how to blow the whistle.
Given the potential amount of whistleblowers out there, the greatest threat to organisations is your employees not knowing how to do it or not feeling safe to do it internally. Simply creating an email inbox can create a massive gap in adoption that hinders progress.
That in mind, let’s talk through some of the additional risks that come part and parcel with relying on email alone to manage whistleblowing…
The top risks of using email for whistleblowing
1. A lack of anonymity
When whistleblowers use email to report misconduct, it’s anything but anonymous. Emails leave traces and metadata, which makes it possible to reveal the sender’s identity. This lack of anonymity can deter employees from reporting, especially if they fear retaliation.
That builds on a very important point. Without the assurance of anonymity, employees are more likely to fear retaliation (something we already found out in our latest round of research). A digital whistleblowing solution can guarantee anonymity and promote safe reporting.
2. Inefficiencies in handling and escalating reports
Using a basic email for whistleblowing can easily overwhelm HR departments and managers alike. Sorting through numerous threads to identify and prioritise reports can be a time-consuming, manual and inefficient process.
Additionally, a huge part of an effective whistleblowing channel is the ability to track and follow up on reports. Email-based whistleblowing makes it a challenge to track and follow up on, as inboxes get easily cluttered and information lost. Reports can easily fly under the radar.
At the same time, what teams often lack is a structured reporting process. Email inherently lacks structure and can cause a drain on the efficient handling of reports. A well-managed process and solution helps maintain a consistent and professional image during cases of whistleblowing (even if they are few and far between).
3. Inadequate documentation and reporting
Organisations often face the challenge of maintaining a comprehensive record of reports. Emails especially can be scattered and easily lost, making it a real challenge during cases of whistleblowing where document hygiene is paramount.
A digital solution can automatically generate and store a detailed reporting trail, ensuring a complete record of every case. That helps ensure accountability and transparency in cases of whistleblowing.
Unfortunately, an email-based solution may lack the transparency and anonymity required to demonstrate your organisation’s commitment to addressing wrongdoing in all of its forms.
4. Compliance concerns with EU directives
The regulatory requirements around whistleblowing laws are growing. First, in the EU with the directive on the protection of whistleblowers – but this is expected to extend to areas, like the United Kingdom, and in other countries where the directive currently doesn’t apply.
That directive mandates specific requirements for whistleblowing systems. Email solutions may not be able to meet those requirements, which puts your organisation at odds with the directive.
A failure to provide a secure and effective whistleblowing mechanism can result in legal consequences for your organisation. To avoid that, a digital whistleblowing solution can serve as a key pillar to help you achieve compliance.
Building a culture of trust within your organisation
The purpose of whistleblowing is to give employees the safety and security to blow the whistle on corporate wrongdoing. For all of the reasons above, it becomes harder and harder to guarantee that level of security with an email-based solution.
If you’re truly considering email as a solution to your whistleblowing needs, consider asking yourself some of the following:
How will email scale if your company is growing? Would it be suited to managing multiple reports at the same time?
Looking ahead a year from now, would your organisation have the same requirements? What if the laws changed – could email alone keep up?
Do you have the flexibility you need to not only guarantee employee anonymity, but to make it easy to loop in stakeholders and follow up on cases?
A solution like Personio Whistleblowing is designed to offer protection, an intuitive interface and a clear way to report, track and follow-up on cases of whistleblowing. This is all done to help promote a culture of trust and transparency while supporting compliance for organisations.
Personio Whistleblowing: Anonymous reporting for employees
Personio is trusted by over 10,000 organisations across Europe to handle their most sensitive data. We help ensure that data is secure, and that employee wellbeing and safety through anonymity and a secure tool at each stage. That includes whistleblowing.
We would like to inform you that the contents of our website (including any legal contributions) are for non-binding informational purposes only and does not in any way constitute legal advice. The content of this information cannot and is not intended to replace individual and binding legal advice from e.g. a lawyer that addresses your specific situation. In this respect, all information provided is without guarantee of correctness, completeness and up-to-dateness.
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