Some experts are calling 2017 the "Year of Regulations." It’s true that there have been a record number of new requirements that have come out in just the last few months, which will have a major impact on organizations in the coming year. Many of these new rules are related to human resources and payroll matters, but others have much to do with the way companies engage their employees in professional development.
The biggest regulations that go into immediate effect include:
- Paid sick leave improvements for federal contractors to increase work life balance
- Greater scrutiny in the relationships between retirement savings administrators and companies
- Final rule on electronic submission of all employee injury and accident reports by OSHA
- Increased safety measures to reduce employee exposure to hazardous chemicals
What’s on the horizon for corporate training compliance in 2017?
In terms of the regulations that impact the corporate training world, employers need to be mindful of the way they deliver learning content, what departments and jobs are impacted by these new rules, and how they track required learning for certain workplace laws. New standards of operating procedures (SOPs) need to be in place, with effective training that keeps in time with updates.
According to Viren Kapadia, CEO and President of Gyrus Systems who also contributes to Training Magazine, the challenges of staying compliant with corporate training are very complex. Nearly every department of a company, from accounting to recruitment, has some kind of new regulation to be concerned with.
"Since compliance training can be tedious, and employees tend to avoid it at all costs, training material that’s delivered carefully and with interventional methods produces the greatest results," Kapadia says.
XpertHR, a company that provides services to aid HR professionals comply with federal, state, and municipal laws, conducted a survey of 1,200 HR professionals to find out what they considered to be the biggest compliance challenges for 2017. The results of the top 5 concerns included:
- Election Uncertainty
- Workforce Planning
- Leave Issues
- Threat of a Cyber Breach
- Benefits and the ACA
Beth Zoller, Legal Editor for XpertHR told HR Dive that in 2017, HR should focus on training as well as explore non-traditional methods such as e-learning, training thorough social media, digital and mobile devices, and micro-learning.
"All of these methods can enhance workplace interactions, increase understanding and employee engagement, lead to improved performance and productivity and minimize an employer’s risk for liability," she added.
On top of a campaign to educate all employees about new workforce laws (even ones that may be in flux due to the administration change in D.C.), Zoller urges all employers to review current policies, practices, and procedures and revise them to reflect changes. Focus areas in the corporate learning space can include:
- Updates to social media and mobile device policies: Make sure that they properly protect confidential and proprietary information belonging to the employer, employees and customers, clients and third parties. Also to minimize the risk of a cyber breach and the disclosure of protected information.
- Updating employee handbooks: Ensure that workplace policies do not infringe upon the employee right to engage in protected concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act. Specifically, an employer should make sure that its workplace policies regarding investigations, social media, employment-at-will, confidentiality, contact with the media, and employee speech and communications, among other things, are clearly drafted in a narrow and unambiguous manner.
- Protecting diversity: Make sure employee development, EEO and harassment policies comply with the expanding discrimination and harassment laws on the federal, state and local level in an increasingly diverse and global society.
Kapadia also illustrated 5 “non-typical” ways to remain compliant and reduce risks with corporate training.
- Use creative means to deliver learning content: Compliance training doesn’t have to be dull, nor does it have to be overly drawn out. Kapadia encourages the use of real-life scenarios to illustrate regulatory points. Games and visual content can fully engage employees in the learning process.
- Segment learning modules: To break up the monotony of compliance training, it’s best to provide short segments of content that can be digested by employees. A learning management system that tracks learner progress can encourage employees to complete the training.
- Reduce steps in the training path: If compliance training is going to be effective, then it should not be a complex series of steps to get to training information. Make sure the LMS has an intuitive and distraction-free platform for improving the learner outcome.
- Set up automated notices and reminders: Sometimes employees need a little more encouragement to complete compliance training. After all, they don’t see the “what’s in it for me” factor. Using the LMS system, training directors can set up automated notices and reminders for employees to complete their training within a certain timeframe, like within 30 days of hire or annually on their hire anniversary. Management should be involved to ensure this happens.
- Make compliance training a part of career advancement: When it comes to compliance training, it’s easy to do just the bare minimum to meet regulatory needs. However, this is a negative way to think about compliance. Instead, Kapadia suggests that the company should include compliance training as part of the career path to competency. In other words, making the training mandatory to advance in one’s job and demonstrate knowledge in this area can be viewed as a career-building opportunity.
Compliance with new workplace rules is not just a human resource matter. It’s something that affects the entire organization and needs to be taken seriously by all. When employees are empowered to learn more about regulatory measures that can protect them and their employers, the connection is made with the company and their role. Learning management systems that deliver learning content in a way that’s impactful, creative, and positive can go a long way toward improving the experience for employees, and making sure they participate.