How to Bring Your Compliance Program to Life
Tactical steps you can take today to breathe new life into your Compliance Program.
We spent the past two articles diving deep into pains and pressures…
- Listing out the frustrations that are draining the life out of your Compliance Program.
- Adding up the costs and ramifications of maintaining the status quo with your “Good Enough” Compliance Program.
Taken as a whole, it’s staggering…and most likely worse than you thought. The good news is there are tangible, tactical things you can do to bring your Compliance Program to Life.
Your Workforce: Compliance is a People Problem
Making compliance easy for your workforce is important in so many ways. And it’s surprising how often compliance teams over-complicate matters. Compliance and ethics topics often raise difficult questions of integrity and morality. But the rationale behind your organization’s policies, and the guidelines and procedures designed to bring these policies to life – these should all be both easy to understand and easy to do.
So, how do you do this?
First, start producing compliance content in smaller pieces and taking advantage of web-based technologies to make your content both accessible and memorable. Eliminate paper – bring your forms online and accessible though mobile phones and tablets. These are great tactics that save time and reduce costs.
Making compliance easy and accessible also has an interesting effect on credibility.
Delivering programs and content in ways that make sense in the modern online world not only displays competence and professionalism, it also demonstrates the value the Compliance Office brings to the organization. As systems prompt and remind employees that their attention is required and the relevant supporting information is instantly available, their individual compliance scores steadily increase.
Fight workforce apathy by making things easy to find, easy to understand, and easy to do.
Your Policies: Ban the Mishmash and Legalese
The next logical place to focus is to take a look at your policies and procedures. The typical enterprise has policies scattered across the organization, in a mishmash of styles and formats stored in a variety of file shares and portals. Worse, the policies might be wordy and written in confusing “legalese,” leaving room for confusion and misunderstanding.
The best way to tackle “mishmash” is to focus on content management.
A centralized, online approach for organizing and sharing compliance information makes life easier for everyone involved. For the compliance office, automated authoring, review and approval workflows supported by online revision control reduces time and frustration. But the real focus of content management needs to be on the employee. Having a centralized online destination stocked with easily searchable and accessible content makes life so much easier for anyone needing to find information fast.
And then, how do you know if your policies are easy to understand?
That one’s easy – ask people. Marketing organizations use a wide variety of techniques to gauge if their message is getting through…steal a page from their book. Focus groups, one-on-one conversations, online surveys – these are great ways to find out what policies mean to the people who are tasked with living them day to day.
Look at how your policies are both written and stored.
Your Infrastructure: Manual Processes Just Don’t Scale
Looking at your world today, and sizing up your world tomorrow…it’s only going to get more complex. Your company’s not going to have fewer regulations to adhere to. And your workforce is not going to stay frozen in time. Now is the time to take a hard look at your manual compliance activities. Most likely they can’t scale to accommodate your rapidly changing world.
You’ll need to be both smart and efficient in the new reality, and automation is your key.
By transforming manual processes into repeatable workflows, you’ll lead your workforce through their required steps without having to figure out what needs to be done next. Set it and forget it.
This is done by codifying your desired practices and procedures into workflows, and subtly embedding objectives and best practices within day to day activities. Some compliance activities, such as policy reviews and declarations, might be periodic events that occur over the course of a calendar year. Once you’ve developed your automated, repeatable workflow you won’t have to waste time trying to remember how you did everything last year.
What gets measured gets improved.
Moving to an automated system means reporting is available the moment you need it. As dashboards and reports are regularly and automatically delivered to managers’ inboxes, it quickly becomes apparent who is doing well and who needs more attention. As a result, overall compliance widens across your organization.
And by making compliance activities easy to accomplish, learning curves are smaller. When auditors come calling, processes and controls are well documented and easily tested, which saves time, effort and expense. Everybody wins.
Automating your manual processes means the right information gets to the right person at the right time, so that nothing falls through the cracks.
Bringing your Compliance Program to life means making the right thing to do the easiest thing to do.
Here’s an example.
Consider two approaches to enforcing a company policy regarding gift giving.
Regional sales managers receive a long email filled with policy language and a barrage of questions. They need to share this information with their teams and get answers submitted back by the end of the week. Managers then need to both monitor and nag their employees to collect the required information by the deadline.
Or an alternative:
All sales team members automatically receive a text message with a link to a short video explaining the policy, several weeks before the information is needed. A pre-scheduled email with a link to an online form that quickly captures the required information follows closer to the due date. The team member fills out their information and attests to the policy with their e-signature. They receive a follow-up text message confirming receipt of the response and a quick thank you for completing the request on time.
Which of the two alternatives would likely have the highest levels of participation?
There are tangible, tactical steps you can take today to bring your compliance program to life, and workforce compliance automation is the key to making this happen. Automating all the compliance activities that affect your workforce reduces the consequences of non-compliance, saving you time and money while making compliance easy for your entire workforce.