Frequently Asked Questions for Admins
- I just received a Spot report. What now?
- What happens if I ignore a Spot report?
- Are there legal benefits to using Spot?
- Am I legally liable after I receive a Spot report?
- Can I avoid legal liability by not clicking on the link in the email I received from Spot?
- How do I know that the person who sent the report is who they say they are?
- I just got an anonymous Spot report. How do I know who sent it?
- How do I know whether the report actually came from one of my employees?
- How can I deal with an anonymous report?
- How do I know a report actually came from Spot?
- Can I be sure that the timestamps on the document are accurate?
- Why are some of the timestamps on the report not in order?
- Can Spot tell from the way a report is written whether someone is lying?
- Is Spot an app?
- Will we receive more reports with Spot?
- How does verification work?
- Does Spot provide legal advice to users?
- Isn’t it better to talk to a human HR rep about sensitive issues?
- What about false reports?
I just received a Spot report. What now?
Spot reports should be treated as a starting point for an investigation, not as definitive proof that something has happened.
Your organization likely has a process for dealing with internal complaints or allegations of harassment and discrimination. Initiate that process upon receiving a Spot report.
If the person who submitted the report provided their name, we recommend sending an acknowledgement of the report to them explaining the next steps your organization will take to deal with the complaint.
If the reporter chose to stay anonymous, you can use Spot to select a set of follow-up questions for them to answer. Spot conducts the follow-up interview and delivers the reporter’s responses so they can retain anonymity.
What happens if I ignore a Spot report?
Responding to all allegations of harassment and discrimination is essential to maintaining the trust of your employees.
If it feels like such issues are ignored or dealt with insufficiently, your employees’ satisfaction suffers, as does your ability to recruit and retain a qualified and diverse workforce.
Are there legal benefits to using Spot?
Yes. One of the main benefits is that by encouraging your employees to use Spot for problems as they arise, you’re more likely to find out about issues early. It allows you to deal with problems internally and try to prevent them from escalating to resignations, legal action, or bad press.
Making Spot part of your HR toolkit or grievance policy shows due diligence in maintaining a healthy workplace. You may receive more complaints, but we think that's a good thing—it likely indicates that your employees feel comfortable enough to report inappropriate behavior when it happens.
Having reliable records of what happened also means that you can address complaints more easily than if faced with vague allegations. Encouraging reporting, and taking those reports seriously, may also provide your organization with extra legal protection. For more on this topic, see our handbook on harassment and discrimination.
Am I legally liable after I receive a Spot report?
If you ignore an allegation of workplace harassment or discrimination, you might be putting your organization at risk. Companies have legal responsibilities to deal with such allegations.
Initiating a fact-finding internal investigation is the appropriate response to receiving a Spot report. The extent of that investigation will depend on the amount of information given in the report.
Can I avoid legal liability by not clicking on the link in the email I received from Spot?
No. Once you’ve received a complaint of harassment or discrimination, you have a responsibility to investigate.
How do I know that the person who sent the report is who they say they are?
If the person included their own name on the report, you should contact them to acknowledge that you received it. Spot cannot verify any user’s identity unless your organization uses Spot.
I just got an anonymous Spot report. How do I know who sent it?
Although we encourage individuals to include their names, we also allow anonymous reporting. We allow anonymity because it’s important for you to know what’s happening in your organization even if someone feels they cannot reveal their identity.
We don’t store any user information. If someone hasn’t revealed their name in the report, we cannot access that information for you.
How do I know whether the report actually came from one of my employees?
If the person didn’t identify themselves, you may not be able to verify that a report was sent by an employee. However, if you receive a complaint of harassment or discrimination, you should still investigate, even if you’re unsure of who the person is.
If your organization uses Spot, we give you the option to follow up on reports with an interview moderated by Spot.
How can I deal with an anonymous report?
When individuals choose not to reveal their identity, Spot informs them that anonymity makes it more difficult for their organization to deal with a complaint. If your organization uses Spot, you can follow up on anonymous reports, thus making it much easier for employees to come forward anonymously.
We recommend that you investigate the claims of anonymous reports and keep records of these investigations, even if they’re very limited.
How do I know a report actually came from Spot?
All Spot reports are securely signed PDFs. You can see verification that the report came from Palace Inc., Spot’s legally incorporated entity, right in the PDF.
Each Spot report is also assigned a unique report ID, found on the cover page of the report.
We delete reports 30 days after they’re downloaded by the recipient. We do keep an ID log of each report sent through us, along with when and to whom it was sent. Thanks to this log, we can verify that a report was generated by us and can confirm when it was sent. If your organization uses Spot, you can keep reports as long as they are needed.
Can I be sure that the timestamps on the document are accurate?
Yes. Timestamps are automatically generated each time a user enters or edits information in their report. The timestamp you see on each part of the report indicates the last time that piece of information was edited by the person who submitted the report.
Why are some of the timestamps on the report not in order?
Timestamps are automatically updated every time a piece of information in a report is changed.
After the bot interview, but before sending the report, individuals may want to correct mistakes or add pieces of information they forgot to mention initially. Those who want to stay anonymous may remove details that could reveal their identity. Spot records a new timestamp for any edited response; the timestamp appears above each response.
Can Spot tell from the way a report is written whether someone is lying?
No. Detecting deception is incredibly difficult. Research consistently shows that although people often believe themselves to be good lie detectors, on average they’re no better than chance. There’s also currently no computerized system that can reliably identify lies in written accounts.
Your employees need to know that if they tell you about inappropriate behavior, you won’t assume they’re lying. Treating a report as suspicious is likely to harm your organization’s relationship with the person who submitted the report. It’s also likely to harm your wider organizational culture.
Is Spot an app?
Spot is a web-based app that’s optimized for desktop and mobile devices, with a dashboard and management system for admins.
Will we receive more reports with Spot?
Many people use Spot to create records for themselves. Sometimes talking through an issue is enough.
Overall, anticipate that reports will increase slightly once you start using Spot. If employees feel secure speaking up about inappropriate behavior, then your efforts with Spot are working. After all, your organization can only address problems that it knows about.
How does verification work?
Currently, there are two ways to verify as an employee of an organization. We’re planning to change this later in 2019 since we’ve heard that this is a major issue with most clients (it’s always important for product and sales to talk).
- Email verification
- Employee goes to talktospot.com
- Selects “Try Spot”
- Selects “Start private chat”
- Selects “My company is using Spot”
- Enters their company email (email@example.com)
- Receives an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Opens email and clicks link found in email
- Starts verified chat with Spot
- Employee goes to link distributed by company (e.g. https://app.talktospot.com/verify/?c=21JrhKz4 for Sample Co.)
- Enters private or work email (doesn’t matter)
- Starts verified chat
Link verification is open to abuse and not every company (cf. Ford) provides email addresses to their employees.
Does Spot provide legal advice to users?
No. But we do offer a legal handbook.
Isn’t it better to talk to a human HR rep about sensitive issues?
No. One of the major barriers to reporting is interaction with other humans. Based on Spot’s review of existing research, employees consistently say they:
- Fear not being believed
- Expect their company not to respond to incidents
- Feel it’s embarrassing to report
- See others treated poorly when they do speak up
- Fear retaliation
And each of us, no matter how self-aware, conscientious, or expertly trained, possesses unconscious bias. That bias affects how we respond and react to accounts of incidents, ultimately influencing how incidents are documented.
You can learn more about this in our sponsored article featured in HR Dive.
What about false reports?
One of the problems that Spot is working to solve is the chronic issue of underreporting: 75-90% of incidents of harassment and discrimination at work are never reported. Statistically speaking, most companies out there have issues going on that they’re completely unaware of. By removing the human barrier to reporting and allowing people to stay anonymous, we're increasing the chances that employees are willing to speak up about inappropriate behavior or unfair treatment earlier—allowing the company to address things before they escalate and leading to greater trust across the organization.
Will this improved culture stop all bad actors? No. Will there always be people who lie? Yes. However, as a phenomenon, the number of false reports is insignificant compared to the number of real incidents that are never reported. Focusing on increasing awareness and building trust across an organization is the best approach all around.
Often the question of false reporting recedes as the more pervasive problems—the huge number of unreported incidents, the psychological and emotional toll of harassment and discrimination, the derailed career development of people who experience things but can't speak up safely about them—come into focus.