Giovanni Gallo is the co-CEO of ComplianceLine. Views are the author's own.
A new year is finally here, and many of us are making moves that will build our businesses. Some are planning to add clients in 2021. Others are looking to expand their team or open a new location. But if there's one thing every business should work on in the coming year, it is improving their compliance training program.
Compliance is vital to keeping your company running smoothly — and keeping you out of legal trouble. However, it's only effective if it works for your specific team. There are several different compliance programs out there, and as a business owner, manager or HR director it is your job to find the program that best suits your company and your employees.
How do you know if your training program is right for you? The best way to determine this is to evaluate your current compliance program. Here are a few ways to assess and evaluate your compliance system to ensure better training in 2021.
Perform mock program audits
One of the biggest flaws in a company's compliance training is outdatedness. If your training isn't up to date with current industry standards, none of your employees will have the knowledge they need to be properly compliant. Therefore, it's important to make sure that the training program you're using is the most accurate and up-to-date program available.
How can you be sure that your compliance training is up to date? Simply do a mock training. Have an auditor (ideally someone in HR who is familiar with current compliance standards) watch your trainers go through the program. Then, make corrections or updates as necessary.
Mock trainings serve two purposes: They allow auditors to check for misinformation or outdated policies within the training, and they allow trainers to practice the program and receive feedback. Through this system, management and HR can fine-tune the compliance training, creating a program that is easy to understand, up to date with industry standards, and effective for your specific organization and your group of employees.
Check employee knowledge and insight
Even the best compliance training program in the world won't be effective if employees are not retaining the information. Therefore, another way to evaluate the compliance program is simply to test employees on their working knowledge of compliance policies.
Make it part of your management responsibilities to occasionally quiz employees on company policies and compliance protocols. This will help identify weak spots in your compliance training (e.g., topics that are not sticking with most of your employees), and it will also provide a useful "refresher" to keep compliance policies at the top of employees' minds.
Additionally, employee surveys can be a useful way to evaluate your compliance program and improve it in the long run. Ask employees which sections were easiest to understand, which ones need better training, and how your compliance team can improve their current training program. Making compliance a collaborative effort will make it more effective overall.
Combine HR data
Your employees are the most readily available source of feedback and insight for your compliance program. However, they are not the only source available. The HR department has tons of information from exit interviews, employee complaints, incidents of misconduct and much more — and all of it can help inform your compliance training program.
Reviewing exit interviews can help identify shortcomings employees noticed in your company's compliance training. Reviewing complaints and misconduct offers even greater insight into those issues, as they show a lack of compliance in action. All this HR data can help you recognize which policies need emphasis among employees.
Once you've studied all this HR data, evaluate your compliance training program and tailor it to suit your team's specific needs. You can put greater emphasis on certain policies and procedures or change certain training methods to make the subject easier to understand or more engaging. Ultimately, using data from HR to inform and shape compliance training will result in a better training program for your team.
Get insight from managers
Another great way to evaluate your compliance training is to seek feedback from managers. Like HR, managers often hear complaints of misconduct from employees. Therefore, they likely know compliance policies aren't sticking with team members. In fact, managers might have a more up-to-date understanding than even HR, as they likely hear more complaints on a regular basis than the HR department.
Talking to your managers can help determine which portions of your compliance training need to be improved or "beefed up." However, it also can be a great opportunity to support and mentor managers. When you discuss employee complaints or misconduct with managers, you have an opportunity to quiz them on the proper ways to handle these events. In other words, these discussions can serve as miniature compliance training sessions.
Put your findings to use
Once you've evaluated your compliance training program, it's time to start making changes. You might want to update your compliance training to meet industry standards, seek outside assistance or outsource various aspects of your program.
Each evaluation step can help you improve compliance rates — which ultimately will make you a safer company (physically and legally) overall. Remember, compliance is an essential part of every business: It keeps your employees safe, protects your clients and customers, and minimizes your risk of litigation. If there's one thing you can do to help your business succeed in 2021, it is evaluating and improving your compliance training program.