By Cliff Stevenson, Principal Analyst, Talent Management and Workforce Management

When Brandon Hall Group began researching organizational compliance risk, I was stunned to discover how many organizations readily admitted being at high risk for compliance violations. But given the amount of complexity and ongoing disruptions of the past year, learning that organizations felt woefully unprepared does not surprise me at all. 

A growing and complex regulatory landscape

We must also acknowledge that it is not solely the pandemic causing this unpreparedness. Complex municipal, state and global regulations are being put in place as more people work remotely, and globalization and digitization of the workforce continue to expand. The importance of regulations that protect privacy, security, labor rights and safety are top-of-mind for many employers and employees.

A challenge can be an opportunity

Although it may seem overwhelming, a growing and complex regulatory landscape might actually provide the impetus for many organizations to take action. Perhaps now is the time technology can play the role it should in promoting organizational compliance. Now is the time for smart automation to finally fulfill its promise. 

For as long as Brandon Hall Group has been researching compliance, the following challenges have been the top three barriers:

  • Managing compliance to the increasing number of laws and regulations
  • Current technology systems are inadequate for compliance tracking
  • Lack of adequate resources for data collection 

Do you notice anything about these barriers? Two of the three are directly technology-related and the third — Managing compliance requirements — is best remedied with a technology solution. The ability to effectively manage large and complex processes is one of the hallmarks of the technology used by top-performing organizations. 

A step-by-step approach to tackling compliance complexity

Rather than becoming overwhelmed, tackle the problem in steps. 

One: Run an assessment on how prepared your organization is for regulatory compliance. Brandon Hall Group research shows that 48% of companies have never run a self-audit on their compliance systems, so something as basic as an employee or supervisor survey or questionnaire is a great place to begin identifying areas of focus or concern.

Two: Look at your compliance program to determine what part of the organization is at risk of failing to fulfill its obligations. Rather than worrying about all regulations, focus on the regulations that have the most significant impact – those that present the most risk to the organization. For instance, if you don’t have hourly workers, you may not need to worry about regulations covering non-exempt employees. 

That leads directly to step three: Reviewing your processes to identify those that can be automated, beginning with areas that demonstrate the highest risk. 

How Skillsoft customers use technology to improve onboarding processes

It is important to think of compliance as more than merely protecting the organization from possible regulatory fallout, but also as an opportunity to help risk managers and safety professionals do their jobs, free up time and ensure your employees know they are being taken care of. It is also an opportunity to make them feel more safe and secure, and help them understand how to protect themselves — and how you are doing the same for them. 

In a recent discussion with a compliance practitioner about Certitude, a Skillsoft compliance technology solution that enables organizations to distribute policies to employees, conduct assessments and report on the results, they recalled a story wherein all employees were assigned training and subsequent assessments. The training included the distribution of policies and collection of attestations of their distribution. Training was assigned by group; everything from the department, region, manager/non-manager, job title, etc. Certitude made easier for employees and auditors is a very good thing, indeed!

When the automated compliance training program is set up, a good system will monitor everything and ensure the digital “paperwork” is as seamless and painless as possible for employees and the organization. 

Leverage technology to work more effectively

While policy management is a big part of this, the main things to consider are volume and complexity. Compliance is complicated enough but it is possible to take complicated regulatory requirements and manage them simply and effectively. In this case, simple does not mean overlooking requirements but bringing order to a rapidly changing workplace environment while new challenges grow in compliance due to regional differences, increasing globalization and a focus on employee privacy and security. 

When seeking software to assist with this, ask yourself, does it:

  • Distribute the “paperwork” employees need, track distribution and record responses or disclosures?
  • Efficiently distribute critical documentation as needed to the relevant or high-risk groups?
  • Simplify often-complicated evaluation and attestation processes?
  • Create a clear audit trail to demonstrate compliance and establish an affirmative defense?
  • Provide data and insights improving understanding and communication?

If your compliance software can do all of the above and you have taken the proper steps to ensure good implementation and governance, you are on your way to turning risk into reward.

For information on Brandon Hall Group’s research and how we can assist your organization, please visit www.brandonhall.com

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