To automate or not to automate, that is the question: Whether ‘tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of manual, time-consuming, error-prone workforce compliance—or to let an automated software solution do the busywork for you.
If you’ve kept up with this series so far, you can probably guess which choice we consider the nobler one.
Forsooth, ‘tis automation!
Automation keeps your employees engaged while providing your organization with the reporting capabilities to ensure your workforce understands your policies and consistently follows them. It should be no surprise, then, that the first signs it’s time to automate are people problems and policy problems.
But there’s a third “P” problem we haven’t yet discussed, and it may be the most painful, perilous, and paramount: process problems.
What Are Process Problems?
Countless organizations manage and track their workforce initiatives through manual processes. We’re talking about relying on spreadsheets, filing cabinets, and even pen and paper to stay on top of employee training, incident responses, day-to-day activities, individual compliance status, and organizational liability.
HR managers and compliance officers who depend on manual systems are busy, busy people. And the larger their workforces, the bigger the bottles of Advil they keep under their desks, because manual processes create tons of headaches. From shuffling through reams of paperwork and emails to keep tabs on compliance status to remembering which activities need to be done by which people—and making sure it all happens—manual processes may involve myriad steps and take hours to complete.
To find out if you have process problems, consider the following questions:
- Does your annual compliance training take a day or two to set up and execute?
- Are all of your onboarding materials current?
- Is all your discipline and termination documentation up to date?
- If a regulator from any agency comes to your door tomorrow, are you prepared to provide them with the information they need?
If the answer to any of the above is “no,” you have a process problem.
What Are Your Process Problems Telling You?
Process problems can pose serious risks. Some organizations that depend on manual processes lack recurring policy and or training management simply because of the complexity of sending reminders to everyone in the workforce. Others face unacceptably high rates of harassment, fraud, health and safety issues, or cybersecurity breaches.
It’s not that employees intentionally cause these kinds of compliance problems. Rather, they result from manual processes. Paper and spreadsheets typically fail to hold people accountable in a timely manner. Members of the workforce may receive inconsistent training, or little to none. Overworked managers might struggle to keep track of their subordinates.
However, increased risk isn’t the only drawback here. In addition to all the potentially costly issues, many organizations with manual processes suffer the immediate cost of frequent turnover due to poor onboarding. And in a competitive talent market, where about 33% of all employees start to look for a new position within half a year, employers can’t afford to disregard their onboarding processes.
At Compli, we’ve witnessed pretty much everything that can go wrong during onboarding. New hires feel disconnected from the company culture, have no clue what’s expected of them, and don’t know who to ask for help. Onboarding ends after a week or a couple days. Employees feel rushed through and undervalued, lacking the means to offer feedback or request necessary tools and information. We’ve even heard about cases when a manager neglected to show up for an employee’s first day on the job.
In other words, you can hire the best people in the world, and you can develop rigorous policies around their behavior, but none of it makes a difference if you can’t give those new hires the support they need from day 1. Without the proper system in place, there’s no way to ensure employees learn and follow the rules—if they even stick around long enough to break them.
How Does Automation Solve Process Problems?
Process is the heart and soul of automation. An automated workforce compliance management system transforms every onboarding step, every training course, every employee development component—every single compliance activity, initiative, form, report, and event—into a simple, consistent, repeatable process.
Automation fills the gaps. It’s how organizations erase the discrepancies and uncertainties associated with workforce compliance management. In an automated system, everyone receives the information they need when they need it. New hires get immediate training and support throughout onboarding, with check-ins during the first 30, 60, and 90 days. Employees get important updates and refresher courses on policies and regulations. Managers get up-to-the-minute data about employee performance, as well as skills and leadership training. HR and compliance personnel get detailed reports about compliance status down to the individual level, along with broad workforce trends, so they can plug any existing holes in their programs and continuously improve their results.
Ready to put it all together? Let’s review:
- You’re a good candidate for looking at automation if you’ve got people issues—if your organization experiences a lot of change in terms of the composition of your workforce.
- You’re a great candidate for automation if you have a large set of compliance requirements, which virtually every employer faces in today’s dynamic and highly litigious regulatory environment.
- You absolutely need to consider automation if you’re overwhelmed by manual processes. If you’re tracking everything through paper and spreadsheets and emails, there’s a better way.
The bottom line: if your current compliance approach is holding you back—whether you’re in a daily state of panic or merely wish you had more time and energy to focus on the important things—it’s time to consider using an automated system. Your employees, regulators, and customers will thank you for it.
But that’s not all! In the fourth and final installment in this series, we’ll explore a few special scenarios and practical factors related to workforce compliance automation. Check back next week for our “When to Automate” Q&A. Until then, if you have your own questions about automation, our experts are here to help.