Are you providing multiple avenues for your employees' complaints? We explore better practice.

Many organisations, with the best intentions, set up a Complaints Officer along with a corresponding process, with the intent of fostering improved communication, employee psychological safety, and legislative compliance.

But what if you've set up a whistleblowing or complaints management system for your employees to voice their concerns, and you hear... nothing? Does silence equate to satisfaction?

It's not uncommon for organisations introduce a complaints system, only to be met with radio silence. This can lead to a false sense of security. After all, no news is good news, right? Not necessarily. A lack of complaints might indicate a lack of trust in the system, rather than a lack of issues.

Anonymous complaints can be a double-edged sword. While they offer protection to the discloser, they can sometimes lack crucial details. This can be frustrating for organisations, leaving them with limited information and no means to seek clarification.

The ISO 37002 International Standard for Whistleblowing emphasises the importance of trust, impartiality, and protection. But can a single channel for complaints truly embody these principles?

Consider a situation where an employee needs to raise concerns about a colleague, but the designated complaints officer is a close friend of the person in question. The potential for bias, whether real or perceived, can deter individuals from coming forward.

To foster an environment of trust and impartiality, it's crucial to provide diverse avenues for submitting complaints. This includes anonymous channels and mechanisms external to the organisation. Offering a range of options, such as telephone, online portals, email, and post, available 24x7, can encourage more individuals to speak up.

In March 2023, ASIC released a report highlighting best practices for handling whistleblower disclosures. The report underscores the significance of IT resources and third-party disclosure intake systems in ensuring effective complaint management.

To truly champion employee wellbeing, organisations must go beyond physical safety. With Australia's new legislation, employers are now responsible for safeguarding workers' mental health too.

At PKF Integrity, we're at the forefront of managing whistleblower and conduct complaints. We offer an independent hotline system coupled with comprehensive range of integrity risk services, and we are available to help you build a healthy, open organisational culture. 

To request a demonstration of our whistleblower protection platform, please contact us. 

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