When times get tough, more dramatic measures might be taken in the workplace. If your company does not have a “ethics” hotline, chances are someone is looking for a way to blow the whistle. Mounting stress sometimes pushes people to skirt the line of what’s right and wrong. It’s a dilemma, how do you let others know what is going on without placing yourself at risk. After all, maybe you don’t have all the facts, yet your gut is telling you something is wrong.

If You Place the Call

Is your boss doing something they should not be doing? Is the pressure of cutting costs bringing about bad behavior? Examples of this might include: theft, stealing of funds, workplace violence, vandalism, falsification of documents or records, accounting errors, sabotage, violations of policy, threats,  sexual harassment or creating a hostile workplace environment.

If there is a hot line in your organization, ensure it is set up properly and use it.istock_000001275566xsmall

A well designed ethics hotline will mask the caller and typically is managed by an outside vendor. You will be able to state your case without concern for your identity unless you wish to share it. Prior to making the call, write down all the points you wish to cover. Set aside your emotional plea when stating your case. Facts and examples will go along way to helping the person responsible for handing your call to respond quickly and effectively.

If You Receive the Call

Even if there is a hotline in your company, you may come in one day and see that blinking light on your phone with a message from a concerned or disgruntled employee. More than likely, the call will be from an anonymous phone number without the caller identifying themselves. It is possible the call is from someone outside the company. If so, determine if the call is about something to do with the effective operations of the business or if the call is personal in nature. Sometimes people want to hurt reputations and use extreme measures by calling their employers. Approach the situation with caution; management will only be interested in addressing issues that are directly linked to business practices.

Pay attention to the caller’s demeanor. Determine if the message delivered in a calm and factual manner or do they seem irritated. Carefully write down all the information, noting anything unusual about the call. If by chance, they did provide contact information willingly or unknowingly (caller ID) then note it. Seek out the best person in your organization to handle the call. Consider someone in the Human Resources function or President/CEO, unless the call is about that individual.