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.
Why is Employee Engagement Critical in Fostering Compliance?
Denmark achieved success through two core elements: time and direct engagement with citizens. This created an invested environment with adherence to common standards and rules. Establishing a trusting environment requires developing mutual trust and respect among stakeholders through a collective understanding of the importance of rules. This promotes sustained harmony without the need for enforcement or oversight. However, Denmark is a statistical anomaly in this regard.
Developing trustworthy environments in organizations is increasingly challenging today. Amidst an era of fear and economic uncertainty, organizations are taking steps to enhance their corporate cultures and achieve corporate integrity and a culture of trust. This involves 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.
How employee engagement drives compliance?
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.
Having a cohesive strategy that fully operationalizes compliance across the organization requires reliable delivery of operational objectives while addressing uncertainty and acting with integrity. The modern organization is complex, with management interacting from top-down to front office employees, and providing executive oversight to the back office. Agile employee engagement models become interchangeable across sectors and industries, with employee engagement across the entirety of the organization during the process mapping and implementation phase hinging on several core functions.
Core elements of employee engagement
- Policy – Organizations use policies to guide employee behavior and overall operations. Policies define behavior standards, expectations, and impermissible behavior under relevant laws and regulations. They cover a range of topics, including conduct standards, transactions, and interactions across the organization. Each policy addresses various aspects of risk and serves as documentation of risk governance. Policies exist to mitigate risk and act as turnstiles and signage that signal to stakeholders what is expected and provide safeguards to ensure that stakeholders act accordingly, similar to a subway system.
- 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. Manage policies in an open framework to provide personnel with the tools and resources to implement and exercise policy guidance, such as accessible training modules.
- Training – To adequately prepare front-line personnel to address risk and context, the organization requires training. Think of employee engagement and policy training like fire drills. Employees and managers need guidance to act accordingly in every potential interaction that may arise in a complex and nuanced world. Training is the guided study and exercise of policy, case studies, and real-world scenarios where other organizations have failed, and it curates a culture of compliance through trained personnel. Organizations should make training routines in a constantly changing and dynamic business environment to keep pace with the world around them.
- Communication – Organizations must prioritize dialogue and communication as it is essential for employee engagement. A culture of compliance should encourage questioning, and policies should be clear and unambiguous, so they don’t require interpretation. Implementing a culture of communication involves creating resources such as hotlines and anonymized reporting processes to ensure open communication channels.
- 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 allows for the integration of all the points mentioned, creating a seamlessly connected environment that can bridge gaps in visibility. When risks arise in an obscure corner of the organization, they can quickly be elevated to the managerial level through transparent and detailed reporting to be addressed and translated into policy.
Developing an integrated, agile, and collaborative compliance program is crucial for organizations, and frameworks like VComply can help achieve this. VComply allows for the coordination of compliance, risk management, and assessment activities across different departments and functions of the organization. It helps break silos and enables the organization to make more informed business decisions.