Gaining a consensus on many things can be a daunting task, but as Americans there is one thing I can say with confidence we all agree on– having a mutual hatred of taxes. So when tax payer dollars can be saved there is a big ‘hurrah’ sentiment, and sometimes the hero is none other than a whistleblower hotline…
A few months ago, a handful of employees of a municipality’s “before you dig” program were fired for timeclock fraud. What happened? Other employees started to take notice and became annoyed that these employees were not showing up for assignments, increasing the workload for other workers. The annoyance led to an ethics complaint made via the city’s whistleblower hotline, and consequently, an investigation that found the workers to be double-dipping (clocking into their city jobs and then leaving to work another job).
By filing an ethics complaint via the whistleblower hotline, the city employees who filed the incident report saved the taxpayers a great deal of money. City residents will no longer be paying these rogue employees for work they are not doing.
Our soon-to-be-released 2013 hotline benchmarking report found that in 2012, corruption and fraud (including theft of time by getting paid by one job while also working at another) was being reported at a rate of about three incidents per 1,000 employees in public administration organizations. You may say that percentage isn’t all that high, but consider two things: First, that’s three reports made through a hotline program, which cannot account for incidents which may be going on unnoticed or unreported. Second, how much (in revenue as well as reputation) could three reports save an organization (and in this case, the taxpayers)?
This city’s ethics hotline worked exactly as it was designed and gave other employees a confidential way to present information about alleged misconduct. This gave the city a chance to investigate the claims and take corrective action (in this case, termination and possible legal action) as well as preventative action to make sure the misconduct doesn’t occur again.
As you can see from this story, ethics hotlines not only protect your employees, but they can protect your organization as well. Remember, all the training and policies in the world won’t be worth much if your employees are hesitant to report misconduct or you are unable to securely and reliably capture their reports.