Communication challenges when introducing whistleblower systems
For companies, this often raises questions of internal and external communication. Good communications and press relations are therefore essential. First, the topic of whistleblowing is relatively new. Second, employees and business partners should be informed and educated about the introduction of a digital whistleblowing system. Clear and comprehensible communication can effectively implement the purpose of a whistleblowing system, in particular by creating a high level of acceptance among employees in the company. Overall, this can also further strengthen the reputation of the company.
One of the leading PR agencies FAKTENKONTOR from Hamburg has been dealing with these issues for years. Communicators and press offices should tackle the topic - and be aware of the three central communicative challenges:
Challenge 1: External communication
Relevant stakeholders of the company must be informed about the new whistleblower system. The advantages of the prevention tool should be highlighted here in order to allay external partners' uncertainties and fears of contact with the new system. Communicators also have another important task: preparing crisis communication. If an explosive tip with high crisis potential is filed via the whistleblower channels, action must be taken quickly in case of doubt. Press offices should define the most important crisis issues with external relevance in advance and prepare appropriate statements and press releases. This enables them to act quickly and strategically in the event of a crisis.
Challenge 2: Internal communication
Employees need confidence in the newly introduced whistleblower system. What information can I share and in what form? What happens to my tips? Who has access to my report? What about data protection and confidentiality? Comprehensive information offerings must be created that are transparent and understandable. This is where corporate communications can play a decisive role - whether in the way information is provided to employees or in mediating between individual departments on the way to implementation. The principle that internal communication is not a one-way street must always apply. Only those who seek dialog with employees and respond to their questions and suggestions can provide sustainable and successful information. Communicators should always take this into account.
Challenge 3: Develop processes
The crucial question is how to deal with information that comes in via the system. Responsibilities and a categorization system are needed that allows information to be quickly assigned and processed accordingly. After all, reliable crisis management is essential in order to be able to react to critical situations at an early stage. If you process information quickly, you can even strengthen your own position. The crux of the matter: reported grievances must be rectified as quickly as possible. In this way, it is possible to make the leap from the defensive to the offensive and regain leadership of the issue. This is precisely where press offices and communicators, as reputation experts, are predestined to take on competencies and become involved in the process development of crisis management.
Those who master these communicative hurdles can face the implementation obligation with confidence. The preparation of crisis communication and the development of information offerings and crisis management processes are the central challenges for corporate communications - tasks that should be tackled now. A whistleblower system can then quickly become a success factor for a company's own reputation management.