In every modern organization and workplace, it is essential to set up a corporate compliance program in order to keep employees up-to-date with the industry’s regulatory requirements. Unfortunately, these corporate compliance or ethics training programs are often viewed as a necessary evil because organizations find them extremely difficult to implement.
This leads us to the big question: how can an organization easily plan and implement an effective compliance program? Well, an easy way to start will be to learn and understand the fundamental requirements of ethical training.
In this article, we will outline the basic elements of a working corporate compliance program. Here are some of them:
A compliance plan
Just before you run a compliance training program, it’s important to set an actionable compliance plan in order to ensure that you stay on the right track. But how do you get started with this plan? It’s simple – read the rules and regulatory policies first. What exactly are the requirements stipulated by the company’s policies or industry standards? Do all employees need to undergo the training or just a specific department?
Once you have answered these questions and gotten a clearer view of the task at hand, you can conduct a comprehensive needs assessment test to identify the problem areas in the organization.
What areas are lacking in ethics in comparison with the industry standards? Has there been a significant drop in compliance over the past few months? Carrying out this assessment will help you to know what areas need to be accounted for in your compliance strategy. Only then will you be able to appoint roles and draw up a comprehensive plan for an effective compliance program.
Written policies or a code of conduct
How can employees and members of staff adhere to ethical compliance programs if the organization has no detailed code of conduct? There should be written policies outlining the compliance program expectations. These policies ought to be approved by the organization’s governing body and not just one individual.
However, it’s not enough to simply draft a document containing the organization’s code of conduct. The policies should also be made available to all members of staff, regardless of their position in the organization’s hierarchy, by pasting it on a notice board or on every desk. This way, all employees will be able to access the document and adhere to the regulations. Another way to increase the accessibility of this code of conduct is by posting it on the organization’s staff website or Intranet location.
A compliance officer
A compliance officer basically shoulders the main responsibilities attached with running an effective training program. Without an efficient officer, your program just might be rendered ineffective or dead on arrival.
Generally, a compliance officer is responsible for both external and internal compliance. They ensure that the organization complies fully with government and industrial regulations and equally ensure that employees follow internal compliance policies.
The essence of having a compliance officer on ground is to make sure that the compliance training program is properly planned, implemented and overseen. This way, the organization can easily focus on other administrative priorities instead of worrying about hitches or mass non-compliance.
Monitoring and annual reporting
It is not enough to simply set up and implement a corporate compliance training program. You should equally take steps to monitor and track the progress of the program. Have there been any significant improvements so far? How are employees adapting to regulatory changes?
An annual report and risk assessment should be taken in order to identify new trends, problem areas, and make adjustments when necessary. This way, you can rest assured that your compliance program is effective and progressive, rather than regressive.
Despite the extensive measures taken to implement corporate compliance training programs, it can be hard to ensure full compliance from employees. This is why it is important to set disciplinary policies in place. Employees who are caught taking unethical or unlawful actions should face penalties commensurate to the offense.
However, it is important to make sure that these disciplinary policies don’t apply to just employees who hold lower positions within the organization. Board members who engage in misconduct should also be removed temporarily or permanently, depending on the stipulations of the policy. In the same vein, employees who adhere to the regulations and code of conduct should be rewarded in order to promote a culture of ethics and compliance.
In most organizations, employees tend to shy away from reporting crucial issues, especially if they involve board members or supervisors. This prevalent apathy has been linked to a fear of retaliation from board members or employees in higher positions.
If your employees feel that they could lose their jobs or be forced to work in unbearable conditions when they report issues of non-compliance, they may keep mute and refuse to participate in the program.
As such, organizations and employers ought to ensure that non-retaliation policies are firmly set in place and implemented. A great way to start is by communicating to all employees that grave disciplinary actions will follow any act of retaliation or intimidation.
Creating an effective corporate compliance program that addresses all problem areas is a beneficial move for any organization. By incorporating all the elements outlined above, you’re well on your way to improving ethical compliance among all staff members.
Bailey Belmont is a lecturer and writer with a Ph.D in History. For over a decade, she has worked in the educational sector and has helped a large number of students to improve their academic performance. Currently, she works as an essay writer, delivering well-written essays and other academic projects.