Courageous? Disloyal? Whistleblowers are people who blow the whistle on other people or organizations. For these people, it is usually important that existing regulations and laws are observed and that misconduct to the detriment of organizations and society is stopped. Thus, they open up many opportunities with their tips: If critical information about wrongdoings in the company is not made public, but is received through internal reporting channels, the management level can deal with it proactively.
In this way, financial damage can be averted, grievances can be uncovered at an early stage and company departments can be optimized. A positive reporting culture that signals that critical knowledge is welcome and does not fall on deaf ears increases employee satisfaction and improves the image. In this respect, the whistleblower system, which the EU Whistleblower Directive prescribes for all companies with more than 50 employees, is a good way to make one’s own company more transparent.
According to the Whistleblowing Report 20211, 43.7% of SMEs in Germany already have a reporting office for whistleblowers, which is organized via e-mails, for example. Reporting channels can also be installed via mailboxes, telephone hotlines or neutral contact persons. In view of the new legal and organizational requirements, we recommend a digital solution.
How, who, when? Organize the whistleblower system effectively and according to the regulations
The EU Whistleblower Directive aims to better protect whistleblowers. The whistleblower system should therefore offer internal or external whistleblowers the possibility to anonymously submit a whistleblower’s report about wrongdoings in the company so that they do not have to fear reprisals. Even though the implementation into national law of the individual EU states will only take place in the course of this year, preparations can be made.
The objective sounds plausible, but there are some aspects to clarify when organizing it. If you introduce a whistleblower system in your company, the first question is how all legal and individual requirements can be implemented in terms of personnel and technology. Which reporting channel is suitable and should several channels be combined? A digital system, for example, can be supplemented very well by an impartial person inside or outside the company. It is determined how the notifications are documented and organized in a legally compliant manner. How is it ensured, for example, that the person who receives and processes the critical information is able to correctly assess the facts of the report? The range of information received can be wide: it can range from sexual harassment to theft and price fixing to environmental pollution. So what processes do I set up as a company in the whistleblower system in order to organize the responsibilities in such a way that the right results are available in the end? THE MAK`ED TEAM accompanies medium-sized companies in the development of a suitable whistleblower system.
Transparent, mature, smooth: The selection of the whistleblower system
The whistleblower system should communicate transparently throughout the ecosystem to potential internal and external whistleblowers how it operates and functions. There are several whistleblower software providers on the market. It is crucial that the software equally fulfils all legal and company-specific requirements in the frontend as well as in the backend.
Frontend: How can internal or external whistleblowers enter their information anonymously? Can external persons also access the system? Can the system be operated intuitively? Can the system cover all required languages?
Backend: How is the correct assessment of the reporting situation ensured and is it reliably forwarded to the right place? How is it ensured that all reports are processed in a process-oriented manner and that the deadlines are met? How is it organized that particularly urgent cases are immediately recognized as such and processed in a prioritized manner? What do I have to consider in the whistleblowing system if the company is internationally positioned?
And beyond that, there are of course many things that a company can do to prevent grievances and misconduct from occurring in the first place. THE MAK`ED TEAM is an experienced partner for compliance management and supports medium-sized companies in planning and organizing whistleblowing systems. We show you the possibilities and challenges and accompany you from the decision-making process to the implementation of the whistleblowing system in your company.
1Source: University of Applied Sciences Graubünden & EGS Group: Whistleblowing Report 2021, www.whistleblowingreport.org