A human resources manager looks into the camera with satisfaction after helping to implement a whistleblower system. In the background are the colleagues.

The role of HR / People & Culture in the implementation of a whistleblowing system

In many companies, it is common practice for employees to report information or concerns about possible violations of company policies or legal regulations. These reports are usually made through a reporting channel (also called whistleblowing). Effective communication about the establishment and ongoing operation of this channel is crucial to promote and strengthen a culture of whistleblowing within the company.

The role of HR in this process is of great importance, as the HR team is most often responsible for communicating and implementing the whistleblowing policy and process. Below are some of the key responsibilities of HR in the implementation and ongoing operation of a whistleblowing channel:

  • Overview of the process: HR should ensure that all employees are aware of the whistleblowing channel and its purpose. This includes providing information about the process, including whistleblower safeguards and the expected timeframe for processing reports.
  • Specifically, this means providing a link for whistleblowers to access the whistleblower channel and distributing brochures or information pages outlining the rights (and obligations, if any) associated with making a whistleblower report.
  • Staff training: The HR department should organise training for employees to help them use the whistleblower channel. These trainings should also emphasise the importance of whistleblowing and the benefits to the company.
  • Monitoring and review: If the HR department has been assigned a lead role in the implementation, the department should regularly monitor and review the whistleblower channel to ensure that all reports are handled appropriately.
  • Particular attention should be paid to ensuring that the processes comply with the respective national laws. In Germany this is the HinSchG, in Austria the HSchG.
  • As a rule, however, this function is performed by a person or department trained in compliance and regulatory affairs.
  • Communication with other departments: HR should work closely with other departments such as legal, compliance and internal audit to ensure that all reports are handled appropriately.
  • Fostering a whistleblowing culture: HR should foster a corporate culture where employees feel safe to whistleblow and where whistleblowing is seen as valuable. This includes raising awareness of the importance of whistleblowing and the benefits for the company and employees. In very practical terms, such a culture also leads to a company receiving more qualitatively resilient reports that can, for example, uncover fraud and thus directly or indirectly avert damage to the company and thus save cash.

In summary, the role of HR in the establishment and ongoing operation of a whistleblowing system is crucial in fostering effective communication and a positive whistleblowing culture within the company. By overseeing the process, training employees and collaborating with other departments, HR can help ensure that reports are handled appropriately and that whistleblowing is seen as valuable within the company.

Need more information?

If you have been entrusted by HR with the introduction or communication via a whistleblower channel, but do not yet know exactly what to consider and what best practices prevail, contact us. We are happy to help with any whistleblower protection issue.

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