Compliance is not the sexiest of business topics, but it is the role of management to ensure that all staff, new and experienced, operate in a compliance culture. Getting compliance wrong costs more than just customers, it can shut your business down in a moment. So how do we as managers of people embed a compliance culture in our workforce? This week’s HR Highlight will explore some strategies for building a compliance culture.
Businesses must make the language of compliance their own. It is not uncommon in business for management or individuals to bemoan the ridiculousness of the need to comply with this piece of legislation or that. This public ‘compliance bashing’ belittles the businesses instructions and processes that are put into place to ensure compliance. The business needs to put a united front to staff that compliance is a part of daily business life and one that it expects all of its staff to understand and treat very seriously.
Once the business is speaking right it needs to ensure that all of its staff start right. The induction and onboarding process is an important one for getting staff up to capacity and operating as part of the workplace quickly. The aim is for the new staff member to quickly understand:
- Who the business is
- What the business expects
- What the processes are (how we do things around here), and
- What will happen if expectations and processes aren’t met
Compliance culture needs to be included as a key focus in all of these steps. For compliance to be important to the new staff member it must be seen as very important to the business. Communication, language and more importantly ACTIONS of the business must clearly show the new staff member that the business takes compliance seriously.
The rhetoric must match the reality that the new staff member is seeing, or the message will be lost and the staff members behaviour may put the businesses compliance at risk, due to a perception that it is ‘ok to bend the rules, they never check’, or ‘that is just a silly paper requirement, we don’t have to do that’.
As with the induction process the rhetoric of the business when it comes to compliance must match the reality that existing staff see everyday. When there is a gap between expectation and reality it must be addressed as part of the performance management system. As with the new staff members if the business sees compliance as important it must treat all breaches of the compliance expectations seriously.
Legislation and regulation is evolutionary and constantly under a state of flux. Changes are made and have to be understood within the business context and then communicated to staff. In this process sometimes items get missed. It is important to maintain communication with staff on compliance breaches, near misses and changes. The business should establish a mechanism for learning about changes, such as association membership, as well as a system for communicating these changes to staff, such as toolbox talks and regular compliance training and refreshers.
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