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Why use internal channels first?

In my previous life, and more or less in most roles I’ve worked in,  emphasis, often heavily applied, was on always reporting internally to your company first. When a company has several channels that staff can use when reporting incidents it is without doubt the internal one, staff to manager, that is the quickest way. When other routes exist, this emphasis, can often put staff in a dilemma. I have observed, in some cases, when this emphasis is itself a little daunting.  It makes staff feel like using other channels is wrong.  Indeed, using one, such as a confidential one, is seen as “telling” and being “unfaithful” to the company.

We should not put staff in this position. We should value all intelligence or knowledge. We should encourage it.  I have thought about this and now I am strongly of the opinion that by stating this so heavily, we are in fact making reporting even more daunting. I support the principle that you should use the quickest route first. But I also support that any channel is better than none at all. Yes by all means have reporting hierarchy but don’t put pressure on your intellectual asset, your staff, to use your choice of channel. Excellent organisations will value all forms of intelligence and if it helps keep someone safe, prevents one business irregularity and potentially stops wrong-doing, then we should want to hear about it regardless of route. Confidential reporting if used correctly offers an internal insight anyway and indeed protects. It just needs an open mind, a company that listens and acts.

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