In any workplace, failure to comply with local, state, and federal laws can lead to costly penalties, and in the most severe cases, dissolution. To complicate things further, the legal landscape is constantly changing with laws being added and amended on a regular basis. In order to ensure compliance, most organizations perform frequent a human resources audit to ensure that everything is up-to-date. However, performing these audits is just the beginning. Employers also need to ensure that employees know how to identify, report and resolve workplace incidents.
Companies that get compliance right have programs and processes in place to educate staff about policies and procedures, so that employees know how to identify workplace safety issues, and what they should do if one arises. This entails educating staff on a variety of topics, including:
- Workplace health and safety
- Privacy rights
- Sexual harassment
- Equal Employment Opportunity (EOO) and discrimination in the workplace
- The appropriate use of social media
While having an employee handbook that provides details about policies and procedures in place for compliance is a good start, it really just lays the foundation. A handbook may help employees know what the rules are, but it may not help them actually be able to recognize what inappropriate behavior looks like. Thus, companies should consider training on compliance-related issues to be a priority, and an investment, as proactively training employees can lead to less severe incidents, and consequently, less costs.
Some steps for effectively training employees on compliance include:
- Frequently educate employees. Education surrounding compliance should not stop after the first training. Employers should often recommunicate workplace policies to employees to keep them fresh in the mind.
- Take action when necessary. Employers must ensure that, if an incident occurs, it is addressed promptly. If policies are being ignored or misused, employers should consider retraining employees on the policies in question while emphasizing the importance of compliance.
- Be transparent. It is important to be clear about the reasoning behind workplace policies. Employees that understand why workplace policies are put in place are more likely to adhere to them. Furthermore, make it easy for employees to ask questions and access workplace policies if their knowledge fades.
- Retrain employees if policies change. With constantly changing laws and regulations, workplace policies can change rather quickly. Employers must be on top of these changes, and on educating employees about these changes. If a workplace policy changes in any way, the employees should be informed and retrained.
In conclusion, proper compliance training is a crucial part of minimizing risk in all workplaces. Having workplace policies in place is not enough- employees must know why the policies are in place, how to identify problems, and how to report them. Successful compliance training helps employees know how to detect and report violations or incidents that could lead to legal liability for employers. It also serves to create a more respectful and smoothly-running workplace, and can improve employee retention.