We get it: Compliance can be expensive. However, noncompliance can be even costlier—on average, 2.71 times more expensive than simply maintaining or meeting requirements. That by itself should be enough to convince companies to prioritize a compliance program that includes policies, procedures, and trainings.
Modern businesses deal with compliance concerns on many fronts, from harassment to IT to conflicts of interest to diversity. Establishing policies to deal with the various compliance areas does more than just save money—it also leads to optimized business practices, ethical operations, and an empowered workforce.
The Department of Justice published guidance in April 2019 on how to evaluate corporate compliance programs. For policies, the document focused on five ways organizations can assess their efforts:
- Responsibility for operational integration
In other words, is your program designed well, covering everything it needs to cover, properly communicated to employees with specific attention paid to those who are considered gatekeepers in the process or with approval authority, integrated into operations, and maintained and enforced? That sounds like a tall order, but policies and procedures, along with compliance training, deliver benefits well beyond preserving the bottom line. Here are four reasons to excel with your compliance program.
A host of local, state, and federal regulations and guidelines govern how organizations operate. Compliance might be mandatory because it’s the law, or it might be highly recommended in the case of recommendations and best practices because it shows regulators that companies are acting in good faith to create a compliant organization. Essentially, adherence is rarely optional, which is why policies and procedures are necessary and why training is so crucial to supporting those policies and procedures.
Compliance training also comes into play from a legal perspective because laws and guidelines mandate companies to provide it. The DOJ identifies training as “a hallmark of a well-designed compliance program.” In this way, compliance training is policy and simply can’t be overlooked or underemphasized.
Every organization operates with some degree of compliance risk that can’t be eliminated—but it can be effectively managed and mitigated with the right procedures and active due diligence. Quality training helps decrease risk by giving employees the knowledge, tools, and confidence to act compliantly in everything they do, from the business practices they follow (which also should be designed to minimize risk) to how they treat each other. This ultimately prevents costly mistakes that can expose companies to operational, financial, or reputational risk.
Building a culture of compliance isn’t necessarily something organizations must do to adhere to laws or mitigate risk, but it’s something they should do to better achieve those objectives. Forward-thinking companies promote diversity and learning and implement standards, training, and awareness to make employees feel safe and empowered. For example, noncompliant behavior, including workplace and sexual harassment, may occur simply because workers are afraid of retaliation if they report an incident. A culture of compliance, fully embraced and promoted by the C-suite, promotes a speak-up culture where employees have confidence that their organization believes and protects them.
When employees are keenly aware of procedures and have been trained to act in accordance with policies and recognize when something is noncompliant, an amazing thing happens: They can respond more effectively when a challenging compliance situation arises. Moreover, effective training reduces the chance of costly mistakes, and therefore protects the company’s assets and reputation. So in a way, this efficiency protects the bottom line.
Of course, employees should take the time they need to solve any compliance situation they encounter. However, good training makes decisions go much smoother. The best software delivers realistic compliance scenarios relevant to employees’ roles so that users aren’t just learning compliance—they’re experiencing it. Top training platforms also provide thorough data so that companies can see where employees are excelling or struggling with compliance policies and procedures. With these analytics informing strategy and resources such as microlearning and job aids offering additional knowledge, more efficiency can be achieved, thus mitigating more risk and protecting the bottom line.
If your organization is serious about prioritizing compliance procedures and policies, training must be part of the program. In today’s business environment, you almost can’t have one without the other.