Whistleblowing training: Key benefits and how to get started

Written policies alone won’t cut it. Regular whistleblowing training is crucial for a safe, transparent, and inclusive workplace.  

Thanks to the growing trend of employees being encouraged to call out inappropriate and fraudulent workplace behaviour (coupled with the fact that employers are required by law to protect whistleblowers), whistleblowing training has never been more vital.  

Without adequate training, both whistleblowers and the senior staff they report to can feel lost — unsure of the steps they need to take and the rights and responsibilities they have. There are also real-world consequences for businesses that fail to follow strict whistleblowing protocols, including legal action, reputational damage, and hefty fines.

That’s why detailed whistleblowing training should be implemented by organisations of all shapes and sizes. In this article, we explain what whistleblowing training is, why it matters, what it should look like, the benefits of regular training, and how to get started. 

What is whistleblowing training?

Whistleblowing training provides information about when, why, and how employees should report fraud, corruption, and other illegal activities in their workplace. It should also outline the importance of a whistleblowing policy, the rights of whistleblowers, and the responsibilities of senior management when it comes to protecting them from retaliation.

Why is whistleblowing training so important? 

According to a report by Baker McKenzie, companies in Asia Pacific are seeing more whistleblower reports than ever before. Meanwhile, a survey by Freshfields found that there has been an overall increase in those involved in whistleblowing in some capacity in the US over the last three years (43% in 2023, up from 32% in 2020). 

However, according to a survey by NAVEX, while most organisations agree that whistleblowers should be protected, not enough have the right policies or procedures in place to keep them safe from retaliation. Results show that only 56% of companies protect the confidentiality of whistleblowers, and 31% track retaliations against a whistleblower after a report is produced.

That, in a nutshell, is why whistleblowing training is so important. The act of blowing the whistle on illegal activity is trending upward, yet businesses are still lagging behind when it comes to educating and protecting their staff.

What should whistleblowing training cover?

The core components of a whistleblowing training program should cover:

  • What is whistleblowing, and what constitutes a “whistleblower”
  • The country’s whistleblowing legislation and whistleblower protection
  • The company’s whistleblowing policy and how to access it
  • How to raise concerns (and the whistleblowing tools that are available)
  • How to follow up once an issue has been raised
  • How reports are handled and how personal information is kept private

It’s also important to note that training should be tailored, with employees and senior management receiving relevant information:

  • For employees, whistleblowing training should help them recognise wrongdoing in the workplace and give them confidence that any report they make will be confidential. It should also educate them on their legal rights and the steps their employer must take to keep them safe when acting as a whistleblower. 
  • For senior managers who receive whistleblowing reports, additional training should outline how to respond to the reporter, how to gather and handle potential evidence of wrongdoing, and the steps they should take to address the issue.

Training should be offered at regular points to make sure it stays fresh in everyone’s minds and to capture any new starts when they join the organisation.

What are the benefits of a whistleblowing training programme?

Whistleblowing training offers several key benefits to both employees and employers. It can:

  • Raise awareness of whistleblower rights
  • Encourage a safe and inclusive workplace
  • Strengthen company culture
  • Prevent misconduct from arising
  • Safeguard the company’s reputation

But that’s not all. When employees are trained to understand how whistleblowing works and that their company values and encourages it, they’ll feel respected and reassured, increasing loyalty and reducing staff turnover. 

Furthermore, whistleblowing training can help improve compliance across the organisation. There are a number of national and international regulations in place to protect whistleblowers, and breaching these can result in penalties for the offending organisation. 

Whether it’s the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989,  The Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) of 1998 or the recent EU Whistleblowing Directive, you must keep your staff safe from victimisation and retaliation.  Offering a regular and detailed whistleblowing training program is a crucial step towards complying with these laws. 

Key takeaway: How to introduce whistleblowing training into your organization

When deciding to offer whistleblowing training to your staff, you have the choice between developing your own internal program complete with materials relevant to your organisation, or you can delegate the training to an external provider. 

In the vast majority of cases, using an external training provider is the best option, and for one simple reason: It reduces the risk of misunderstanding whistleblowing legislation

While senior staff and HR managers might have a surface-level knowledge of whistleblowing laws, the rights of whistleblowers, and the responsibilities of their organisation, it pales in comparison to experts who offer this training day in, and day out. 

By working with an external training company, you can be sure you have the right policies and processes in place to handle whistleblowing reports correctly.

If you’re ready to introduce whistleblowing training into your organisation, start by searching for “outsourced whistleblowing training suppliers” on Google. Next, check the course contents, materials, and any testimonials from similar-sized companies. Finally, create a shortlist and reach out to each training supplier to discuss how they can help your company educate your staff on whistleblowing.

In summary

To recap, whistleblowing training is used to educate employees on their rights as whistleblowers and to help encourage them to identify and call out inappropriate or illegal behaviour in the workplace. 

However, training is only part of the puzzle when it comes to whistleblowing. You must also make it safe and easy for your staff to speak up when required. 
That’s where a whistleblowing app, like NorthWhistle, can help. As an internal reporting mechanism, we support encrypted whistleblowing in text and voice, always fully anonymous as standard. Personal data is kept secure, while your business complies with the EU’s whistleblower directive and other whistleblower protection laws. Book a free demo here.