Compliance is a commitment
Is your organization equipped to handle sensitive compliance issues reported by employees? Establishing secure channels for reporting concerns such as harassment or procedural violations is important. Yet, when these reports are anonymous or confidential, finding a resolution can feel daunting. In this blog, we’ll explore ways to navigate these situations, drawing on People Element’s expertise in collecting and consulting on compliance issues through employee surveys. Stay ahead of potential legal hurdles and foster a safer work environment with strategies — because taking action is always better than standing still.
Best ways to report a compliance issue
Find information within the comment
Feedback submitted confidentially will have some identifiable information within the comment that can help you follow up. For example, a confidential comment may come through that states “When I was working in the Marketing department…” We may not know who submitted the comment, but we do know the issue can be isolated to the Marketing department. If you can read through a comment and narrow down where the issue might have originated, that can provide insight into who you can follow up with.
We maintain confidentiality when reporting compliance issues to our clients, only breaking in extreme circumstances, such as threats of harm to self or others. By leveraging information within comments, we will assist in tracking recurring themes and addressing confidential issues effectively.
Pay attention to patterns
People Element can report confidential red flag issues back to our clients with a location and sometimes even department or job title demographic associated with it. That way, even if a compliance issue comes in without identifiable information, we can provide context as long as it doesn’t break an employee’s confidentiality. For example, a comment might be reported that states “I was being verbally abused by my coworkers.” The employee doesn’t tell us what department he or she was working in, or even at which location the verbal abuse was coming from.
That’s when the benefit of having a third-party team, like us here at People Element, can provide demographic information regarding location and possibly which department the employee was working in when the incident occurred, without breaking our strict confidentiality threshold.
Right now you might be thinking “Ok great, but what if I’m not working with you and I still need to manage my compliance issues?” I highly recommend that you keep track of department/job title/location themes as best you can, to identify patterns of complaints or compliance violations. If anonymous comments come in and there is any identifiable info in them, keep track of that. If you start to notice a pattern of complaints from a certain location or group, it is more likely worth further investigation into that group.
Protect a person’s anonymity
A safe environment fosters honesty and openness among employees to share concerns if necessary. If employees feel like it’s not safe to report concerns or complaints without retribution, I can almost guarantee that you’ll stop hearing about these compliance issues altogether. It is important to reiterate this idea with people outside of HR who you may be following up with regarding compliance issues. For instance, if you are following up with a department manager about a reported issue, remind the manager not to go on a “witch hunt,” to try to find out who complained. This can make everyone feel uncomfortable and can make it feel unsafe to report issues to you. I believe it’s more important in the long run to protect the safety and anonymity of the issue-reporting process than to find out who said what just so you can follow up on an issue. Sometimes being aware of an issue is all you can do, which leads me to my last tip…
Resolve and document the issue
If you’ve done all you can to follow up on an issue without harming the reporting process, sometimes all you can do is read the issue and mark it as read or resolved, even if the resolution is “there’s nothing we can do with this, considering the amount of information we have.” I do recommend recording that information somewhere, so that in the future if you need to show that you were aware of an issue, you’ve documented that you’ve done all you can with the information you were provided.
Addressing confidential compliance reports can be challenging, but it’s essential for maintaining trust and safety in your team. It’s more than a duty; it’s an opportunity to uphold workplace integrity and respect. Leverage People Element’s employee engagement platform as your tool for building a stronger, unified team.