The Five Benefits of Whistleblowing

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

The Five Benefits of Whistleblowing

Whistleblowing is an essential aspect of the checks and balances system within any company. It provides companies with protection from reputational risks and similar issues. In addition, when employees are confident in their ability to blow the whistle potentially, the entire company enjoys a culture of positivity and shared responsibility.

Individuals don’t often make the call to blow the whistle — it’s not a call that’s made lightly, which is why companies need to show a deep commitment to whistleblowing mechanisms. If a company encourages whistleblowing, it shows a willingness to self-improve and a respectful attitude towards employees.

It’s essential to treat whistleblowers without any hostility — they are not enemies of the company. They are people who didn’t want to give up on it and let it go to ruin. By speaking up, they give their company the benefit of the doubt, believing that mistakes will be corrected and that crucial stakeholders will listen.

Whistleblowing can be hugely beneficial to any company, and in this article we’ll identify the benefits of having a whistleblowing solutionin place.

1. It reveals uncomfortable truths

A decent degree of internal control is essential to any company — and when all other control systems fail, whistleblowing is the last line of defence against wrongdoing. Moreover, it allows companies to get raw, untainted feedback — information that’s not guided by (potentially malicious) self-interest.
In many cases, whistleblowers reveal matters that weren’t previously known to company executives — and even when an issue was previously known, its extent often isn’t. As a result, whistleblowers can be the crucial wake-up call that a company needs to distance itself from previous wrongdoing — or it can signal an ongoing crisis that needs to be deal with.

Whistleblowing is almost always expensive in the short term — but indispensable over the long run. For instance, Toyota International has pioneered an “andon” production system — the phrase roughly translates to “signal” or “sign”.
In Toyota’s manufacturing plants, it’s a visual aid that shows where immediate action is necessary. It can be activated by any employee working in the production line if they notice a problem — and the production is immediately halted until the problem is fixed, regardless of the expense.

2. It enables structured learning

To prepare for the future, successful companies anticipate their future needs and invest in their employees’ complementary skills and knowledge. At their best, companies are not just profit machines — they are also learning organisations. And whistleblowing is a show-stopper that forces businesses to halt, get a lay of the land, and face difficult lessons

The Black Box
Today, all aeroplanes contain recording devices called “black boxes”. In case of a disastrous crash, aircraft manufacturers and airlines can use these to learn what went wrong — and to implement the needed safety and security measures to prevent such a disaster from happening in the future.

3. It empowers people

Modern management is less hierarchical than ever — but people still have a hard time standing up to their superiors. After all, higher-ups make important decisions on the employment, promotion, and remuneration of their subordinates. That’s another reason why whistleblowing is an important mechanism in modern corporate culture — it allows lower-ranked employees to provide valuable feedback without concern for their career or potential repercussions.

Permission to speak
A rigid hierarchical structure is always maintained in the military and emergency services (like the police). However, even in such conditions, subordinates can speak up in life-threatening situations. Oversight over the care for vulnerable adults and children cannot function without whistleblowing.
And while companies invest in their employees’ professional development, those resources are wasted without proper whistleblowing mechanisms. Without established channels for whistleblowing, employees may not feel empowered and motivated enough to work for the benefit of the company - and their stress levels will be heightened as a result.

4. It produces unique insights

Whistleblowing gives decision-makers a unique perspective on the company — one they couldn’t get any other way. There are plenty of aspects of a business that company boards can’t determine truthfully without support from whistleblowing reports.
However, the number of whistleblowers that a company has in a single year cannot be easily interpreted as success or failure. On the one hand, more whistleblowers may mean an improvement of the company’s employee policies — and on the other, it could mean serious issues that are slowly surfacing. Whistleblowing doesn’t easily lend itself to a simple binary approach — and the information it produces requires a lot of careful scrutiny. However, the important thing is that it inspires a culture of debate and thought exchange.

Unpleasant conversations
Whistleblowing can produce an array of difficult conversations — but the increasingly transparent world of business is fraught with conversations that many executives would rather not have. For example, the recent reveals of gender pay gaps have resulted in deep discussions on the future of work and the division of power and wealth. Different comparisons are springing up — from racial, ethnic, and religious to gender-based disparities.

5. It signals excellence

Today’s generation Y doesn’t have the same workplace attitude compared to older generations. As a result, they have far fewer qualms about questioning the status quo. As such, they appreciate the egalitarian nature of corporate whistleblowing. With that in mind, a clear and supportive whistleblowing structure attracts younger talent and inspires confidence in regulators, suppliers, customers, and employees.

The EU Whistleblower Protection Directive, passed in 2019 [1] requires companies with 50+ employees to provide an appropriate mechanism of communication to all staff members before December 2021. Qualee’s whistleblowing feature provides anonymous messaging capabilities, native to the Qualee app, allowing employees to report illegal or unethical activity and companies to keep their communications streamlined within one platform. Employees can directly message their company's coordinator, in real-time and use the anonymous channel as desired, giving them the confidence that their voice is heard.

Assure you are 100% compliant with international whistleblowing legislation and sign up with Qualee today.

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