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Why Employee Engagement is Critical in Fostering a Compliance Driven Corporate Culture

Jun 7, 2022

If you travel to Denmark, you’ll find that when you enter the subway system there are no turnstiles prohibiting your access to the platform prior to providing payment or taping your metro card. Why is this you might ask if you’re an urban native anywhere else in the world? No, public transportation isn’t free. Denmark has achieved something that is absolutely unthinkable to many parts of the world, a prime culture of trust – a phenomenon that residents of major urban centers such as New York, London, and San Francisco would find baffling. A culture of trust means that compliance and adherence to rules is so high that creating checkpoints and protocols to ensure trust are virtually unnecessary because all actors are complying.

Denmark was primarily able to achieve this through two core tenants, time and through direct engagement of its citizens – effectively creating an environment where all actors are invested, and stakeholders adhere to the rules and common standards.  Creating a trusting environment begins with first developing mutual trust and mutual respect between stakeholders, this stems from a collective understanding of what the rules are and why they’re critical to promoting a sustained harmony that doesn’t require enforcement and oversight.  Denmark, however, is a statistical anomaly.

Today the struggle to develop environments that the general public can trust within an organization has never been more difficult.  In the midst of an era of fear, economic uncertainty, extreme ideological polarization, a generation-defining pandemic, changing climate, and unequal measure of diversity and inclusion in society at large organizations are taking measurable steps to enhance their corporate cultures.  The achievement of corporate integrity and a culture of trust starts with fostering social responsibility, accountability, and employee engagement. 

“We must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear, hate, and selfishness, and be, instead, a proud community of mutual trust and respect” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower,

34th President of the United States.

An organization’s corporate culture becomes a living collective reflection of an organization’s mission and translates further into the quality of that organization’s output.

The primary tenant to fostering a culture of compliance and creating a foundation for an organization to act, build, and perform with integrity is creating defined policies and driven processes.  An organization’s employee engagement and general compliance process build habits in the behavior of how the business operates at a departmental level, from the organization’s front-line employees to directors, and the c-suite.

Organizations must build this process simultaneously from the top down to the bottom as to address the needs of individual stakeholders while also creating a unified approach that leaves no room for silos of communication and disconnection, effectively leaving no stone unturned.

To have a cohesive strategy that fully operationalizes compliance across the organization, the strategy must be able to reliably deliver operational objectives, while addressing uncertainty, and acting with integrity.  The modern organization is complex, management interacts from the top down to front office employees to providing executive oversight to the back office.  The model for agile employee engagement becomes interchangeable across sectors and industries because its broadest interpretation works to achieve the same ends.  Employee engagement across the entirety of the organization during the process mapping and implementation phase hinges on several core functions:

  • Policy – Policies are the defined and written rules of behavior standards and expectations that guide employees and the organization as a whole as to what is permissible and what is impermissible under the laws and regulations in which an organization operates, the standards of conduct under the contract of the organization, transactions of products and services, interactions across the organization, and relationships across the functions of the organization.  Policies are the documentation of risk governance, each policy addresses various aspects of risk, policies exist because of the existence of risk.  Returning to the metaphor of the subway system, these policies are the turnstiles and signage that signal to stakeholders what is expected and provide safeguards to ensure that stakeholders act accordingly.
  • Accessibility – Every stakeholder in the organization must be able to adequately access, understand, and share policies so there is a mutual understanding of protocol when risks are imminent.  How policies are shared needs to be managed in open frameworks to provide personnel with the tools and resources to implement and exercise policy guidance, such as accessible training modules.
  • Training – In order for the front-line personnel of the organization to be adequately prepared to address risk and context.  Think of employee engagement and policy training like fire drills.  In a world of complexity and nuance employees and managers need guidance to act accordingly in each potential interaction that may arise.  With organizational scale training becomes raised to a higher imperative.  Curating a culture of compliance requires trained personnel, training is the guided study and exercise of policy, case studies, and real-world scenarios where other organizations have failed.   Organizations should make training routine; in a constantly changing and dynamic business environment the modern organization needs to perform with the pace of change of the world around it in order to reach a state of agile operational maturity.
  • Communication – Organizations need to have dialogue and communication.  Employee engagement does not exist without communication. A culture of compliance needs to ask questions, in a perfect world policy should not be subject to interpretation because they are directed as such to address interactions with context.  However, in order to prevent rogue actors from making poor interpretations of policy culture of collaboration and dialogue is necessary.  Implementing a culture of communication can be done by creating resources such as hotlines and anonymized reporting processes.
  • Risk Management – Risk is inevitable in the organization, the pace of risk spiraling out of control and leading to a toxic culture becomes a result of not building a culture that is driven by strong policies, accessibility, training, and communication.  Organizations need to have visibility across the functions and interactions in the context of the business. 
  • Technology – Technology enables the unification of all the aforementioned points creating a seamlessly connected environment that can bridge gaps in visibility.  When risks arise in an obscure corner of the organization that risk can quickly become elevated to the managerial level through transparent detailed reporting to be addressed and translated into policy.

It is essential for organizations to develop an integrated, agile, and collaborative compliance program and frameworks like VComply. VComply allows for compliance, risk management and assessment activities to be coordinated across different departments and functions of the organization, assisting the organization in breaking silos and making more informed business decisions. 

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