3 ways to encourage employees to report malpractice

3 ways to encourage employees to report malpractice

April 6, 2022

Although in some cases there are already ways for employees to report malpractice, there is always more that can be done to actually use them. Some employees may be afraid to use the methods available for reporting, others may not think they work, or do not think that the management, the HR department or the person who now receives the cases cares.

Therefore, here are a few tips on how you can encourage employees to report malpractice.

In short, these are:

1. Establish clear contact paths

2. Educate in reporting & behaviour

3. Enable anonymity

Let's go more in depth:

1. Establish clear contact routes

By establishing clear contact channels for employees to report malpractice, you make it easy for them. Exactly what the contact routes look like depends, for example, on the industry the company is in, but above all perhaps its size.

For example, a larger company should not use a telephone line or e-mail address as this involves large amounts of administration. A company on a smaller scale, for example with less than 50 employees and which is thus not covered by the EU Directive for whistleblowing, does not have the same requirements regarding confidentiality and follow-up. Thus anonymous forms, or mailboxes can be used, but then follow-up with the anonymous whistleblower is not possible. Keep in mind that the risk of conflicts of interest in smaller companies increases. Overall, a web-based reporting channel with anonymous follow-up is often a good alternative, but the most important thing is that the contact routes are clear and follow any legal requirements.

By establishing a positive attitude around whistleblowing or general reporting of misconduct, the chance of employees actually reporting increases. By also reminding employees that it is actually a good thing to report injustices or irregularities when they witness, or are exposed to such, one can change the attitude to more positive. Whistleblowing has a negative tone as a starting point.

What matters is that there are clear and flexible contact routes for the employees to use. As different people prefer different contact methods, it is always a good idea to have more contact paths, rather than fewer.

2. Educate in reporting & behaviour

It may seem obvious, but the fact is that many workplaces inadequately go through the reporting of malpractice. Some companies only mention it quickly in passing during training, or a little when you as a new employee visit the HR department in the onboarding. This means that employees can easily forget which contact routes apply or how to proceed to report something.

It is therefore a good idea to spend adequate time on this during the training, explaining the process of reporting something and discussing it. In a larger group, it can also be good to let people discuss with each other or ask questions to the relevant person. By going through it properly, there is a greater chance that the employees both remember, and use this when needed.

During the training, you can also go through the moral and ethical rules that you want to see in the workplace. This reduces the risk that reporting of irregularities will be needed, as the matter is handled more proactively.

READ ALSO: How to prevent misconduct in the workplace

3. Enable anonymity

Something that prevents many from actually reporting malpractice in their workplace is the fear of being socially "judged" by employees or of being subjected to reprisals. You might think that you could be perceived as a whiny person, dramatic or as a person who overreacts to everything. In the worst case, you can also be afraid of having a bad relationship with your boss or getting fired. This is one of the reasons why anonymous reporting is incredibly important to offer in the workplace.

It is best to offer contact routes where anonymity becomes optional so that those who want can be completely anonymous. The number of people who dare to raise their voice when the opportunity exists to remain anonymous is obviously greater than otherwise. This is especially important in smaller workplaces where everyone knows everyone and where otherwise negative reactions can easily occur if someone reports something.

READ ALSO: Anonymous reporting in whistleblowing


By using different contact channels with the possibility of anonymity, it is made easier for employees to report malpractice. You can mention the benefits of reporting injustices when you see them, and give reporting of irregularities a positive emphasis within the company, something that ultimately benefits the company.

When training new staff, you should also go through procedures for reporting misconduct and go through the moral and ethical values ​​that you want to have in the company. This ensures that the risk of reporting being necessary is reduced, as well as making it easier to report something if, or rather when, it is needed.

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