Magazine article Workforce

Whistle-Blowers Are Wary of Hot Lines

Magazine article Workforce

Whistle-Blowers Are Wary of Hot Lines

Article excerpt

When an employee commits an ethics violation, those who learn of the transgression will hopefully pass the information on to the appropriate party. However, as "50% of Your Employees Are Lying, Cheating & Stealing," the cover story of the October 1997 issue of WORKFORCE, says, HR can't always know when violations are committed.

However, during the last few years, many companies have introduced anonymous, toll-free hot lines that allow employees to ask questions, report problems or simply get a bugaboo off their chests. With innocuous-sounding names like Guide Line or Help Line, it might seem like a way to build a more ethical company and eliminate problems along the way.

That's not always the case. "They're anything but innocuous. These mechanisms for reporting instances of organizational waste, fraud and abuse remain tinged with controversy," writes Andrew W. Singer in the September 1995 issue of Across the Board, a magazine published by The Conference Board. The Mamaroneck, New York, author points out that many callers simply don't trust the confidentiality and anonymity of such phone lines, despite what a company promises.

One of the biggest problems centers on the use of toll-free numbers. It's a fact of life that all toll-free numbers have Caller ID capability built-in. That allows the recipient of the call to track the number of the caller and possibly determine who that individual is. The latter is an important point because callers can borrow a colleague's or a manager's phone to make such calls and then that person can wind up on the hot seat. …

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