Whistleblowing is a vital part of employee protection and health and safety practices, and having the right tools and processes in place is essential when dealing with these sensitive issues.
Traditionally, organisations rely on employees leaving details of health and safety misconduct anonymously via hotlines; reporting to external unions; or raising concerns to HR. New technology, such as apps or cloud-based reporting tools, mean organisations can keep track of behaviour and maintain a healthy, safe working culture, whilst self-regulating in the following ways:
1. Increased confidentiality
Employees are usually in the best position to raise concerns; however, fear of personal or professional repercussions and lack of clarity over whistleblowing processes can be drivers which prevent staff from speaking out. Cloud-based technology provides additional anonymity, allowing employees to report health and safety concerns without having to be identifiable. Technology can also allow for clearer communication on processes and procedures, removing ambiguity and ensuring all employees’ concerns are treated equally.
2. Automating data entry and record-keeping
Utilizing technology can reduce administrative processes by automatically feeding data to the appropriate HR or payroll system; and it removes the potential for human error, providing managers and HR with more accurate data needed to make informed decisions on appropriate intervention. It is not just about reducing the administration involved in data entry; technology also provides a vital audit trail to help resolve queries on either side (Gilbert, 2017).
3. Highlighting patterns or trends
Automating whistleblowing data collection means that patterns and trends can be identified earlier and faster. For example, if multiple concerns are raised against a specific department, the data collected will highlight the trend, and the HR team will be able to see this, investigate and act, or allocate additional resources as needed.
It is good practice, as an employer, to create a transparent and safe working environment where workers feel able to confidently speak up about health and safety incidents, violence, and workplace anxiety. By using technology to define clear policies and procedures and allow anonymous whistleblowing, organizations demonstrate their commitment to listening to employee concerns and getting ahead of issues before they arise.
John Gilbert, NGA Human Resources (2017). Laying the foundations for better employee relations. Accessible here: https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/3359560/Resource%20Centre/White%20Papers/Laying%20the%20foundations%20for%20better%20employee%20relations.pdf