Hotlines are a good way to obtain information about internal fraud and other harmful activities that may otherwise go undetected. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) certainly believe that, arguing:
…the data has consistently shown that frauds are more likely to be detected by tip when a hotline is in place. While 46% of cases in the report were detected by tip at organizations with a hotline, only 30% of cases were detected by tip in organizations without a hotline.
However, there is a difference between having a hotline and having a hotline that employees feel encouraged to use. ACFE Regent Ryan Hubbs has five suggestions for how to encourage staff to blow the whistle via the corporate hotline.
- Train and retrain staff on how to use the hotline, keeping them aware of it.
- Make it easy to find out about the hotline.
- Be transparent about the process to be followed when tips have been received.
- The people managing the hotline and investigations must have the necessary competence and resources.
- Repeatedly assess and review the performance of the hotline, obtaining feedback from staff, auditors etc.
Good habits are infectious, and Hubbs argues that staff will keep using the hotline if they can see there was an appropriate response to the tips that have been provided. That said, the ACFE might need a little coaching with how to motivate staff, based on their observation that:
The herd will actually lead the way for a positive habit, a habit that could stop fraud in its tracks.
When training staff on why they should use the corporate hotline, you should probably avoid referring to them like herd animals!
You can find out more about the ACFE’s advice on hotlines from here.