Each year, NAVEX produces the Hotline & Incident Management Benchmark Report – a comprehensive assessment of trends in whistleblowing. This year, our analysis included 1.52 million reports across 3,430 organizations and is in use by many organizations to benchmark their compliance programs against peers and industry standards.
The findings in this report illuminate trends in hotline reporting and the overall cultural health of thousands of organizations across the globe. This post explores one of the key findings from this year’s benchmark: people still want to talk to a person when they have a concern, but they are more likely to experience a substantiated outcome when they write it down and submit their report via the web.
Key finding from this year’s report – phone reports are a mainstay
This year, our data shows that although electronic communication is prevalent in day-to-day life, phone intake remains a crucial channel for incident management programs, with the percentage of reports taken via phone increasing from 31% in 2021 to 33% in 2022.
Given the prevalence of hybrid and remote work, employees are likely better able to make sensitive phone calls and submit web reports for their concerns. This is demonstrated in this year’s data where the volume of “Other” intake channels, such as walk-in reports declined.
This shift in reporting methods underscores the importance of offering multiple channels for employees to report concerns, including web intake, which is increasingly popular, with a typical organization seeing half of its reports come in via the web.
It is significant to note that many people who have a concern often prefer to share it directly with a person, as that accounts for one-third of reports received in 2022. This continued usage of phone intake suggests employees value the personal connection and rapport building that occurs during a conversation.
However, the data also shows that web reports are more likely to be substantiated than phone reports, with a median substantiation rate of 39%, compared to 33% for phone reports. This trend has been consistent over the past three years, indicating that web reports provide more actionable information regardless of whether the reporter is anonymous. Let’s unpack some potential differences in report quality and substantiation for phone versus web reports.
The higher substantiation rate for web reports can likely be attributed to the fact that people who choose to submit their report via the web have more time to carefully consider and articulate their concerns.
Unpacking report substantiation
The higher substantiation rate for web reports can likely be attributed to the fact that people who choose to submit their report via the web have more time to carefully consider and articulate their concerns. Writing down experiences and observations provides a more detailed and thorough report, which allows for a more comprehensive investigation and a higher likelihood of substantiation.
Moreover, web reports offer the benefit of anonymity, with a median anonymity rate of 72% for web intake compared to 53% for phone reports. This anonymity allows employees to feel more comfortable reporting concerns without fear of retaliation, which can lead to more accurate and forthright reporting.
The data collected from hotline reporting underscores the value of accepting anonymous reports, which can provide significant information that may not be available otherwise. In many cases, anonymous reporting can be a crucial tool in identifying and addressing misconduct and other concerns. For more insight into the rise on anonymous reports, check out this blog which discusses another key hotline benchmark finding.
The key lesson here is that organizations should provide multiple channels in order to meet reporters where they are in order to capture as many reports as possible. This will allow the employee to make a report how and where they are comfortable, anonymously or not, and helps organizations capture this crucial information.
The 2023 Hotline and Incident Management Benchmark Report highlights the importance of offering multiple channels for employees to report concerns and incidents within an organization. While phone intake remains a critical channel, web reports are more likely to be substantiated, offering a more detailed and thorough report. In short, both are important to offer and reports and inquiries should be actively encouraged.
The anonymity of web reports allows employees to feel more comfortable reporting concerns without fear of retaliation, leading to more accurate and honest reporting. Further, anonymous reports, which can provide valuable information that may not be available otherwise, should be embraced with the same level as named reports.
The recent Hotline & Incident Management Benchmark Report webinar discussed this key finding and provides further analysis into how organizations should look at report intake methods and substantiation rates.
This year’s benchmark report is full of data analysis and insight for you to improve your hotline program performance. To gain expert analysis and to access the full report: