State of Employee Whistleblower Hotlines Research

Culture Powers Performance!

Syntrio State of Employee Whistleblower Hotline Research
Syntrio Speak Up Listen Up

We’re At Another Turning Point

In what ways can building solid and sustainable cultures help improve innovation, customer service, and overall performance?

The rise of the global pandemic and megatrends, such as leveraging contingent and part-time workers in the gig economy, embracing the ascent of the millennial generation, and accelerating digital commerce, has presented severe challenges to organizations focused on building their cultures and becoming employers of choice.

Syntrio analyzed 27,000 completely anonymous hotline reports to produce this report.

Respondent Profile and Methodology

Anonymous hotline reports


organizations with employees who logged almost 27,000 anonymous hotline and online web reporting reports in 2021.

Company Size


of organizations have more than 100 employees


have more than 500.


Organizations span a range of industries, including healthcare, not-for-profit, financial services, technology, manufacturing, professional services, education, biotechnology, retail, energy, entertainment, transportation, construction, government, real estate, insurance, manufacturing, hospitality, and agriculture.


Reports were submitted anonymously and stored in a secure case management system. No confidential information was used to prepare the report.

Ethics Hotline Reports and Lawsuits Continue Upward Trend

According to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Annual Report to Congress, there has been a 33% increase in whistleblower tips coming into the government. In 2020, the Commission received over 6,900 tips, the most significant number ever recorded in a single year. Legal settlements’ volume and financial severity continue to trend upward, ranging from fraud to cybersecurity, discrimination, and employee safety.

Number of Tips Coming into the Government

Similarly, the Association of Certified Fraud and Abuse Examiners studied 2,504 cases from 125 countries, which resulted in more than $3.6 billion in losses. ACFE’s Report to the Nations highlights essential findings that help prevent such epic losses:

Organizations with hotlines detect fraud MORE QUICKLY (33% faster) than those without hotlines.

Median losses due to fraud were NEARLY DOUBLE at organizations without hotlines ($100,000 vs. $198,000)

At the same time, the most significant single whistleblower award ever recorded under Dodd-Frank recently occurred—$200 million. While substantial, these cases often pale compared to the recent legal suits and settlements that have dominated news cycles and damaged many global brands.

Legal issues and cases often have a severe financial impact on organizations. Still, they also affect their ability to attract and retain top talent. Creating a vibrant culture should be a priority, and the speed to discover underlying issues is paramount to fostering a high-performing workforce.

Yes, the financial consequences can be significant. Not only are legal suits and settlements expensive, but state mandates and fines can also be cost-prohibitive, not to mention the impact on other expenses such as insurance premiums and the negative effect on company valuation.

Median Losses Double
at Organizations
without Hotlines

with Hotlines                without Hotlines

Association of Certified Fraud and Abuse Examiners Report to the Nation

Website Reporting on the Rise

A notable finding in this edition of the report is the continued preference and trend toward web reporting. While organizations typically offer multiple avenues to report an issue, employees and other stakeholders choose to file a report via an online website nearly as often as speaking with a telephone operator or processor.

Hotline Reports by Source

While a small number of reports are submitted via traditional mail and fax, the trend is moving toward website reporting. This is likely to continue as organizations have workforces that operate in a variety of different environments. The best employee hotline providers offer auditable, global, multilingual, secure, and reliable services that are permanently anonymous.

Syntrio - Hotline Reports by Source

Driving Performance
with a “Speak Up” and “Listen Up” Culture

Cultural factors such as employee engagement relate to business outcomes, including revenue and profitability. Employee Experience has emerged in a broader context that includes factors such as retention, health, safety, productivity, and leadership.

Can you win the battle for top talent?

Not if you think it’s only about money, job title, or job security. The post-pandemic era is becoming defined by employee experience: how your organization Listens Up! and engages employees to Speak Up! will largely determine how your organization performs.

Employees who report misconduct via anonymous hotlines help their companies improve, create healthier cultures, and strengthen ethical standards.


Syntrio Culture Powers Performance - ethics reporting

Request Our Essential Guide to Creating a Speak Up! Culture

Syntrio Essential Guide "Speak Up" - Creating a Culture where raising concerns matter

What’s Driving Your Program?

Organizations focus more on aspirational values and programs to achieve consistently sustainable results rather than reactive external drivers. This shift results in higher levels of performance.

Employee Hotline Systems Equally Support Everyone

Anonymous hotlines and digital suggestion boxes are accessible to all employees, regardless of where they work or live. This makes it easy for everyone to get the help they need. Hotline usage is universal globally, and nearly every region is leveraging technology to engage all employees equally. Our research found incident reporters – employees and stakeholders who file reports – to work and live virtually worldwide.

What makes hotline services so appealing is the ability to engage employees and other stakeholders uniformly wherever they are located.

Syntrio Global access to reporting hotline
Syntrio Global Industries use Ethics Hotlines

Widely Utilized Across Industries

While the history of employee hotlines is rooted in highly regulated sectors, virtually all industries leverage them today. Whistleblower hotlines are useful for organizations to tap into talent pools and drive successful financial outcomes.

Hotline systems are commonly used in many organizations, including healthcare, not-for-profit, financial service, technology, and manufacturing.

Modern leadership is vital to the trend of increased competition for top talent across many industries. They are also concerned about regulatory compliance and the potential costs of non-compliance.

Other industries leading adopters of new technology are professional and business services, biotechnology, pharmaceutical, retail, energy, and entertainment. Transportation and distribution, construction, and government services are also adopting new technology at a rapid pace.

The Nature of Employee Hotline Reports

Our research uncovered many exciting findings across our study’s 27,000 anonymous hotline reports. Hotline reports vary widely across organizations, ranging from sexual harassment and bullying to hostile work environments and wrongful termination. Surprisingly, a broader range of reports was logged during the pandemic when many workers worked in virtual environments this past year. Issues such as sexual harassment and bullying were on the rise despite the trend to work remotely.

HR and Employee Relations

  • General HR topics
  • Employee misconduct
  • Unemployment
  • Crisis-related reports
  • General employee relations
  • Willful misconduct

Employee Abuse

  • Hostile work environment
  • Wrongful termination
  • Improper behavior
  • Bullying

Employment Law

  • Unfair employment practices
  • Harassment – sexual
  • Discrimination – age, disability, race, gender
  • Gifting and cash payments
  • Retaliation

Patient Care (Healthcare)

  • Quality of care
  • Privacy
  • Waste and abuse

Ethics and Legal Compliance

  • Regulatory compliance
  • Legal violations and ordinances
  • Fraud – financial, workers’ compensation, healthcare
  • Code of Ethics
  • Workplace Safety and Information Security
  • Unsafe conditions
  • COVID-19
  • Cybersecurity concerns

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Why Reporting Hotlines Are A Best Practice

Syntrio Why Ethics Reporting Hotlines are a best practice

Popular Features of Whistleblower Hotlines

Your organization deserves to have the best industry ethical culture and compliance practices. Teaming with a leading hotline and employee experience platform provider enables you to develop best practices for obtaining information and rapidly responding to ethical dilemmas as they occur.

When issues arise, a secure hotline and case management system optimizes investigations, reduces administrative overhead, supports due diligence, and creates a complete audit trail. The following are the most popular features of employee hotlines and experience platforms:

Employee Hotline and Experience Platform Requirements

Follow-the-Sun Universal Access

  • Employees can click, chat, call, email, mail, or fax 365 days a year worldwide.
  • Certified advisory specialists and confidential report intake processors are always available with multilingual services.

Secure Case Management System (CMS)

  • Services adhere to best practices regarding ethics investigation procedures.
  • Incident reports are captured and stored securely in a web-based CMS. This system allows you to track a problem from beginning to end and makes sure that important details are not forgotten.
  • Robust analytics allow organizations to learn about emerging trends and issues across regions.

Communication Tools

  • Communication materials encourage and enable all employees to utilize the service.
  • Best practices include written policies, digital promotional posters, and other communication tools and programs.
  •  eLearning training on essential topics such as fraud, code of conduct, diversity and inclusion, a civil and respectful workplace, ethics and compliance, employment law, and harassment are essential courses to complement your service.

Employee Experience (EX) Platform

  • Awareness programs encourage all employees to speak up and managers to listen up.
  • Speak Up bursts fuel your digital awareness campaign to enrich employees through microlearning, snapshots, and communication tools.
  • Listen Up pulses continuously gather feedback from teams on how they’re doing about important ethics, compliance, and culture topics.
  • Learning libraries foster a performance culture with robust training and awareness content.
Syntrio - the best Whistleblower Ethic Hotline

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The Critical Need for Employee Reporting Programs

Syntrio - World-class Ethic Hotline

The Next Wave is Employee Experience Platforms

An Employee Experience (EX) Platform is a modern suite of communications resources that encourages all employees to Speak Up and managers to Listen Up. It provides complete visibility and awareness for the modern workplace.

Research findings reveal modern leaders continue to reimagine the future of workplace cultures, and it’s clear we are living through a time of real structural change as the speed of business accelerates. We need to get feedback from employees, customers, and markets and use our unique cultures to improve performance.

An EX Platform enables you to harness the power of an engaged workforce, essential to delighting customers and outperforming competitors. Successful business leaders know that their employees are the best people to identify new opportunities and issues as the world changes.

These new platforms help you reach new levels of employee engagement, leading to a culture of sustainable performance. The best platforms are tech-enabled and easy to use, delivering remarkable cultural transparency.

The Business Impact of Employee Experience Strategies

Recent research shows that cultural factors such as collaboration, employee engagement, and retention directly impact performance. Investing in culture can help organizations thrive financially and retain employees for extended periods.

A vibrant company culture fosters happier employees and results in more productivity and commitment. Organizations with high employee engagement and rich cultures tend to be more productive and profitable than those with low engagement.

The Josh Bersin Company, a leading industry think tank, conducts extensive research on corporate talent, learning, and HR technology. They have found that companies that leverage the right strategies see tangible performance gains.

Business Impact of Employee Experience Strategies

Business Outcomes


More Likely to Exceed Financial Targets


More Likely to Delight Customers

Innovation Outcomes


More Likely to Innovate Efficiently


More Likely to To Adapt Well to Change

People Outcomes


More Likely to Create a Sense of Belonging


More Likely to Be a Great Place to Work


More Likely to Engage & Retain Employees

Exclusive New Report on the State of Employee Hotlines and Experience Platforms

HR, risk management, and ethics & compliance officers can use data from employee hotlines and experience platforms to improve their organizations. This State of Employee Hotlines and Experience Platforms report highlights key opportunities to foster and grow a culture that dramatically improves business performance.

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