Creating a culture of compliance is critical to the success of any organization. Employee compliance encompasses a wide range of guidelines and regulations that are put in place to ensure the occupational safety and well-being of your workers, avoid potential legal liabilities, and promote successful daily operations in the workplace.
This guide will provide a comprehensive overview of workplace compliance issues, as well as practical examples and strategies to help your workers adhere to compliance protocols effectively.
What is employee compliance?
Employee compliance refers to the act of employees or independent contractors adhering to federal, state, and local laws, as well as to corporate policies, that regulate their job duties.
These regulations can be expansive and include everything from how your company attracts new talent to its talent management strategies. The regulations’ purpose is to direct workers and their organizations to conduct business within legal, ethical, and sometimes moral standards.
Employees play a crucial role in ensuring that businesses comply with regulatory requirements. By following written policies and contracts in the workplace, attending regular training sessions, and reporting violations, employees can help maintain their organization’s integrity and promote safety and compliance.
Why employee compliance is important
Compliance with legal requirements is essential to protect your business and employees from potential legal action or other harm. By ensuring compliance, businesses can promote a culture of safety and ethical conduct while fostering a positive work environment.
Compliance can benefit your organization in a number of ways, including:
Examples of employee compliance issues
Businesses may face different compliance issues, ranging from workplace discrimination to breaches in data privacy. Being aware of the following examples of noncompliance issues can equip organizations to anticipate and address any challenges.
- Safety violations. Instances of workplace safety violations may include employees not using protective equipment, improper use of machinery, failure to report spills or hazards that may cause falls, or situations involving threats of violence.
- Data security breaches. Examples of data security breaches include sharing company information with another organization, revealing customer data to other clients, losing a work-issued electronic device, or downloading confidential files on a personal laptop.
- Harassment and discrimination. This includes making inappropriate comments and remarks based on a person’s race, age, identity, or sexual orientation. It also involves degrading, insulting, threatening, or intimidating behavior toward another worker.
- Time and attendance violations. When an employee fails to show up for work without prior notice, it can result in delayed deadlines and affect the quality of work delivered. In addition, tardiness can lead to reduced productivity.
- Regulatory noncompliance. Instances of regulatory noncompliance include failing to follow health and safety regulations, violating the code of conduct toward other employees or customers, disregarding training protocols, or neglecting to report a breach of compliance laws.
- Quality control issues. Quality control problems often found in the workplace include improper inspections, disregard of proper testing protocols, failure to report defects, and outdated documentation.
- Social media misuse. Inappropriate use of social media in the workplace includes posting negative, offensive, or inappropriate photos or comments on social platforms, particularly directed toward colleagues or the organization.
- Conflict of interest. Workers with a conflict of interest may engage in actions that compromise the integrity of their work, such as hiring family members without following proper procedures, working for competing organizations simultaneously, or using company resources for personal gain.
8 effective ways to ensure employee compliance
Creating a culture of compliance is critical to the success of any organization. This involves implementing various strategies, including providing clear guidelines and policies, regular training sessions, and increasing employee engagement.
By implementing the following strategies, businesses can create a culture of compliance that promotes safety, productivity, and ethical standards.
- Establish clear expectations
- Provide training and development opportunities
- Reinforce consistently
- Lead by example
- Maintain open communication
- Provide adequate resources
- Establish a positive workplace culture
- Use technology
1. Establish clear expectations
Establishing clear expectations for employee compliance is critical for a positive and productive work environment. Businesses should consider several factors when creating these expectations, such as ensuring they’re attainable and realistic, communicated effectively, and established early on during the onboarding of new hires.
Organizations should create written procedures that clearly outline proper behavior, conduct, and workflow and ensure they’re accessible to each worker. These guidelines should be updated regularly, and you should give employees ample time to review and understand them.
Additionally, businesses should schedule regular meetings to address any questions or concerns. Collaborating with workers to receive feedback on the established expectations and ensure they align with the company’s mission and values is also beneficial.
2. Provide training and development opportunities
Regular compliance training ensures workers are current on the latest legal, regulatory, and corporate requirements, mitigating potential risks and promoting compliance. Organizations should offer mandatory health and safety training and group sessions to discuss daily operations and compliance policies.
Additionally, organizations should prioritize training employees on business ethics, data protection, and information security. This can help workers understand their responsibilities concerning sensitive information, including handling, storing, and sharing data securely.
Development opportunities should also be provided, including training sessions focusing on workplace diversity and anti-harassment guidelines. These training sessions can equip employees with the knowledge and skills to maintain a positive and inclusive workplace.
3. Reinforce consistently
Consistency is key when reinforcing employee compliance. Regular performance evaluations and group meetings can help employees understand their roles and responsibilities and provide a platform for discussing compliance concerns or questions.
Updating policies to align with industry standards is also important to maintain compliance. This shows workers that your company is committed to staying up to date on current regulations and best practices.
Rewarding good behavior is a positive way to reinforce compliance. Monetary rewards or employee recognition can motivate workers to maintain compliance. Thank-you meetings can also be a simple but effective way to increase positivity and show appreciation for employees’ hard work and commitment to compliance.
You’ll want to ensure that any rewards programs don’t suffer from unintended consequences. For example, a poorly designed safety incentive program that rewards low injury rates can encourage people to under report incidents. A better designed program will encourage and reward the behaviors that lead to an improved safety culture.
At the same time, you’ll want to establish consequences for noncompliance. This may involve verbal and written warnings, changing job responsibilities, implementing performance improvement plans, or assigning a probationary period. Communicate these consequences clearly and ensure they’re consistently enforced.
4. Lead by example
Leading by example is a powerful way to ensure employees mirror your behavior. Always following the expectations you set for your workers demonstrates that your business is reliable and trustworthy, making it more likely that your employees will comply.
One way to lead by example is to develop your skills and abilities to become an effective leader. This can involve seeking training opportunities to learn new techniques and strategies for communicating about regulations. It can also mean modeling the behaviors and attitudes you want to see in your team, such as a positive outlook and strong work ethic.
You also need to make ethical business decisions that are in-line with corporate policies. This means acting with integrity, honesty, and transparency and making decisions that are in the best interests of your workers, customers, and stakeholders. You can inspire your team to do the same by demonstrating ethical behavior.
Being supportive and understanding is essential, even during conflicts, so your workers feel comfortable reporting violations.
5. Maintain open communication
Maintaining employee compliance in an organization requires open communication, encouraging feedback, and promptly addressing issues. Open communication creates an environment where employees can freely express their concerns or ideas.
It allows them to share their perspectives and experiences, leading to better decision making and compliance.
By encouraging feedback, employers can identify areas for improvement and make necessary changes to procedures, which can improve adherence to these protocols. In addition, addressing concerns right away can prevent small issues from escalating into more significant compliance issues that could harm the business’s reputation.
6. Provide adequate resources
To encourage successful adherence to policies and regulations, you should identify any barriers that may prevent compliance. These can include a lack of information or training in daily operations, inadequate recognition of good work, or a lack of trust in the organization.
To address these issues, organizations should provide the necessary resources to ensure compliance, such as well-written policies based on industry standards and regulations.
You should also provide employee handbooks—work instructions that clearly define job responsibilities, videos, checklists, and templates to help employees follow protocols.
A culture of compliance can be fostered by regularly providing training sessions and group meetings. Implement an open-door policy to encourage communication, questions, concerns, and feedback. This approach can help create a culture of safety and inclusivity that promotes compliance.
7. Establish a positive workplace culture
Making sure that workers are actively involved in the workplace is a crucial aspect of promoting compliance. A positive work culture fosters productivity, happiness, and a safe environment—all of which encourage behaviors and decisions that align with your organization’s objectives, policies, and industry standards.
Collaborating with colleagues through seminars or webinar sessions can help them actively learn and discuss compliance in the workplace.
To further enhance employee engagement, you can introduce games, reward systems, or off-work development programs to encourage personal and professional growth. These initiatives can increase employee engagement, loyalty, and willingness to comply with your business’s standards.
8. Use technology
Managing compliance can be a complex and time-consuming process, especially regarding recording, monitoring, and reporting activities. Fortunately, technology can provide solutions to many of these challenges.
One of the most significant benefits of technology is that it can facilitate a strong remote work culture by offering remote training sessions with automated reminders and tracking the completion of training modules.
Technology can also automate and streamline documenting compliance-related activities, such as investigations and reports. This saves time and ensures you capture all necessary information accurately.
Automating tasks and updating critical information can significantly reduce mistakes. For instance, software programs can automatically update important information, such as policy changes and employee training records. This reduces the likelihood of errors occurring when such updates are done manually.
With compliance programs and robust cybersecurity features, you can restrict access to authorized personnel only and prevent data breaches. Additionally, technology enables continuous work monitoring, making tracking employee progress easier and ensuring compliance with company policies and industry regulations.
Find the best compliance workers on Upwork
Finding Human Resources (HR) professionals who prioritize employee compliance is crucial, but can be challenging. Luckily, Upwork provides a diverse pool of HR compliance freelancers who can contribute to your compliance team and help your company refine its policies, promote employee engagement, and encourage positive communication.
According to a recent survey of 1,000 U.S. hiring managers, 85% believe partnering with independent professionals provides them with access to specialized skills and expertise. That’s why it’s worth considering Upwork as a platform to hire a highly skilled HR compliance professional for your business needs.
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